Ray Bradbury’s Writing Triggers #SOL17

screen-shot-2017-03-14-at-1-30-42-pm15The more I find out about Ray Bradbury, the more I love him.

As much reading about writing as I have done, I have never come across Ray Bradbury’s NOUN writing exercise. It is brilliant! I love lists and I love writing! It is perfect!

Here is the link to the Brain Pickings article outlining his unusual writing practice.

I started my own list and have been writing 100-200 word pieces using one noun from the list as a trigger. I am hoping this exercise is the key to unlock some of the stories that are hiding in my mind.

My First List of Nouns:

The night. The Dark. The empty. The foot. The drawer. The book. The manuscript. The eve. The house. The fireplace. The castle. The moors. The pool. The date auction. The class. The ring. The roller skates. The pen. The candle. The heart. The mirror. The run.

My Variation

I asked some friends over the weekend to text me a short list of nouns to use as springboards for writing. This variation is more in line with the random word prompt. The lists are not my own so the emotional story unlocking potential is not as prominent.

Here are opening lines of a story I wrote using this noun list: The Horse. The Banana. The Table. The Peanut Butter. The Glasses.

It was a rainy,  too warm October day when the horse dropped dead in the middle of the pasture. He didn’t know what to do with death. Peanut butter freed a six year old’s horses around the corner. The little one hid in a closet and wasn’t found for 2 days. A peanut butter and banana sandwich can be deadly in more ways than one. One bite taken out of the square white softness was enough to change a whole family, and the town they lived in.

Jack took his glasses off and set them on the table and rubbed the space between his eyes with the two fingers of his right hand. They were stained with dark black ink as they always were. They were calloused and rough. He could hold balls of fire without pain. Maybe they could even resist death. He hadn’t had the opportunity to experiment. Jack joked and told people that he could handle the heat because of all the evil his hands had done.They never knew if he was kidding.

My plan is to try this prompt with students as well to see what unlocks in their minds!

#happy writing






5 Favorites On Friday

     3. The Librarian Is In Podcast

The Librarian Is In Podcast


 4. Reading Glasses Podcast



5. Pizza 

I love pizza! I could eat it everyday!


American Ninja Warrior – At Home

slice-of-life_individualOur family is obsessed with American Ninja Warrior. We have watched it as a family for several years and this past weekend we transformed into participants with our at home version.

We set up a course in our house this past weekend on a budget. My husband used all the random items in the garage to make obstacles and it was super fun. The kids and I have talked about making obstacles in the backyard including a warp wall and a peg wall,  but that is a project for next spring.

We set up “floating chairs” in the hallway, balance beams with an egg balance, a tape maze, a ring toss, a ball toss, a rope and elevated ladder they had to walk across, and a climbing wall. A bell was used as a buzzer at the end of the course.


tape maze

Above you can see the tape maze that the kids had to navigate with an egg on the spoon. We lost about 3 eggs over the course of 2 days.

Garage Ninja

Above you can see the climbing wall and the ladder the kids walked across with the assistance of the rope tied to the beams. The ring toss in the foreground proved to be difficult and ate up a lot of time for several participants.

The kids went through the course and we timed them each heat. It occupied about 4 hours total over the weekend. There were several rounds of competition and then they decided to run it backwards. It was super fun the whole time.

For one run we taped a cell phone to their chest and recoreded from their perspective which was fun to watch. A much cheaper version of a Go PRO!

There were educational pieces as well discussing the timing, minutes, seconds, and tenths of seconds. We problem solved how to get a faster time and what factors contributed to slower or faster times.

This will definitely be a continuing practice at our house throughout the winter. The kids are already planning their own obstacles they would like to see in the next course. We also plan to incorporate some elements that resemble Survivor games as well. It makes for a good combination of skills and ideas that are not all physical.



What I am Currently Reading…and Why You Should Read it Too!



I am reading Sourdough by Robin Sloan and am so excited and enamored with this book I could not wait to post about it. The author name may seem familiar because he is the author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. (Another great read!)

Sourdough was my choice for September Book of the Month (BOTM) club. I had first heard about it from the All the Books Book Riot podcast and was intrigued about a book about bread – my favorite food!

The way this book is written can only be described as “happy”. It warms and comforts me like a hygge day! While reading it I can smell what my own house smells like when my husband is baking bread. The main character is interesting and not conventional. She is a tech person who has started to bake bread from a starter given to her by men who ran a restaurant out of their apartment. There is a quirkiness to the story that makes it fun to read and unusual, but also genuine.

It is a book that I keep coming back to and I do not want to read it too fast because then it will be over. While reading it, you may get hungry for a great piece of bread and you  may also want to visit your local farmer’s market before it closes for the winter!

Reading this book reminds me why I love reading so much – I am captivated by a story about great people. I can feel the magic as the words enter my brain!

Image result for sourdough robin sloan




As part of Workshop Wednesday, I had everyone take the 16 personalities free quiz to find out their personality type. It turned out to be a very interesting experience that had a ripple effect I did not expect. The discussion around the talent finder list stopped after the session. The personality type test was vastly different. The conversation is still happening in the hallways. Spouses are taking the test and then making their friends take it. Conversations are happening over dinner. It has been fun for me to hear the stories. It has opened up professional conversations that would have not happened before either which is the part that makes me the happiest.

I am an INTJ. I am soooo an INTJ. I am a personality full of contradictions however especially for my job. I am truly an introvert, but have learned extrovert behaviors to be able to do my job well. My professional set of behaviors are quite different than my social behaviors.

I am constantly learning partly because I have to deliver new ideas to the people that I work with but I also find learning personally fulfilling. I want meaningful conversation to get the most out of my time, but hate small talk. I have to have a feeling of accomplishment.

According to my personality type,  I need to be able to tackle interesting work pretty much on my own. I like to share and talk about ideas with other people,  but I have to have formed an opinion and judgement first. I love to read, but there is a point that I want to share the ideas and connections with other people after I have processed in my head. I have learned to narrow some of my insights into small snippets and sound bites that are quickly shared because of the nature of my job. Time is of the essence and I cannot always have a long drawn out conversation. These longer conversations are usually scheduled if they occur. I find that I sometimes don’t think too much about it ahead of time though because I don’t want it to seem scripted.

I can be difficult in work relationships especially with people that possess the  Observant and Feeling traits (which are a lot of the people in my building). I have a set of standards and code of conduct that are my expectations and if I see people doing just what is good enough or social then I can get irritated.  I am extremely independent and I like freedom in my schedule. I do work for intrinsic motivational reasons not external ones. Things must be backed up with sound reason and deliver with competence. I get irritated when it is not. If my role is too tightly defined I don’t like it.

Titles mean little to nothing to me especially in the realm of trust and respect. Trust and respected is earned …not just given. If I am silent then it is usually a lack of respect.

I am also very private. I will deflect personal talk most times and have almost made it a game. I think this is why I love questions and always have one at the ready to ask if the questioning is getting too personal for me. I also test people and conduct social experiments to force people to read between the lines and make them deal alone with work that would have been easier if they would have taken my suggestions. One of the reasons I needed to get off Facebook was because my status updates tended to be cryptic. Most people didn’t understand what I was referring to…it made it frustrating for people.

I like to involve a few trusted colleagues in brainstorming sessions excluding those who get hung up on details or haven’t earned my respect. I usually will do it alone and will think while running or write it out. I love the benefits of solitude and victory – usually alone. I value innovation and effectiveness, but will put aside almost everything if I can be swayed by a rational argument. I promote freedom and flexibility in the workplace  Office gossip and schmoozing get you no where with me. Bold competence is the way to my heart at work!

I have worked diligently to foster the relationships in my building since I started here and have learned from my past mistakes. I genuinely like the people I work with and they are such talented educators. I am blessed to be in a building that wants to work together and learn! It is even more exciting that the people want to learn more about their content and strategies and also about each other.




Thursday Randomness

  1. Books I recently finished:
    1. SIP by: Brian Allen Carr


Image result for sip carr


I liked this book for the idea of the story. The world in this book is constructed where people “drink” shadows as a drug. Halley’s comet is involved and an interesting cast of characters. The story has the hint of science fiction. The writing style was not as pleasing as I would have liked. I also wish the characters would have been more deeply developed. I enjoyed the book and the story, but it isn’t a favorite pick of the year.


2. The Changeling by Victor LaValle

Image result for the changeling

This book was recommended by Liberty from All The Books. It was about a bookseller and a fantasy story about witches. The story is slightly off center in a fantastic way. The ending took a weird turn for me that seemed off. I kept coming back to the book and wanted to finish it. It was worth the time for sure.

2. I really wanted pancakes yesterday…but didn’t get them.

3. I love to go to the library. I live in a town that is close to where I grew up and still have a card at the library I essentially “grew up in”. Yesterday I went to pick up books on hold. Even though the library has been remodeled and doesn’t look anything like I remember, there is always a sense of comfort walking through the doors. Sometimes I wonder if it is because it is the library and I am comforted by books in general,  or if it actually has to do with the fact that it is a familiar book and reading space.  It represents so much of my reading life through my elementary, middle, and high school years.

4. After listening to the Book Riot Annotated Podcast this morning on my run the question of: “How do you feel about the Oxford comma?” was injected into several conversations throughout the day. If you haven’t checked it out – it is completely worth your time!




Revealing Myself

Slice of Life2

I am reflective and always have been, but most of the time I just refer to this trait as “over thinking”. I believe that being reflective professionally makes a better educator. Over the past three years in particular I have acutely evaluated what is truly important to me. I love quizzes, personality tests, and asking questions.

As I cleaned out the clutter of my Pinterest account yesterday I came across a pin of 20 questions that reveal your true self and thought today’s post would be a perfect place to answer 4 of these questions.

  1. What is your life motto?


I believe that reading is the gateway to learning and to pleasure. Stories make the world go ’round! Stories makes us more empathetic and help us cope. Books are my favorite things by far! They are a comfort to me. This motto sometimes comes out as, “I have a book for that!”

“LOVE OVER FEAR” came from Gabrielle Bernstein and I must say it changed some negative thinking to a more positive frame. I try to take action based on love rather than the fear of what will happen, or could happen. Motivation comes from passion or fear. I am intentionally choosing love over the fear. It has made a difference.

2. What is my favorite thing about myself? 

My favorite thing about myself is that I am passionate. I am passionate about my job, my reading, my exercise and running, and my husband and kids. If it is something that I am interested in I will kill myself to learn it or get it done.

3. What did I want to be when I was a kid?

When I was young I always wanted to be a teacher. There was a short time I wanted to be a writer too, but it was always thought of as a secondary career. I am not sure why exactly. I have always written poems and stories since I can remember.

I loved to be in school and loved to cut out lamination. The idea of being in school as my job was an exciting prospect when I was little.

4. What is my biggest accomplishment? (professional)

There was a time period of roughly 2 years that I was involved in writing heavy grant and award paperwork. I was honored to be part of a school that won a National Blue Ribbon School Award, a Title I Distinguished School nomination, and the Indiana Exemplary Reading Program. It was great to be recognized for the work the staff was doing with students. I feel my entire career has been full of small and large accomplishments with individual students.

As part of Workshop Wednesday,  I am utilizing personality tests so my staff can better learn how to collaborate and work together. The conversations after one session have been interesting. There are all new teams in my middle school so I hope this helps people to ease the transition into new working relationships.

Office Clutter

I have moved rooms/offices 5 times in 2 years. This process has resulted in approximately 75% of materials and books being dispensed or discarded. Items were shared with students and teachers. I digitized many files and papers and saved on flash keys or Google drive. I have not found myself searching for documents that “I know I have somewhere.” I only seem to be missing student evidence that accompanied professional development sessions I had created.

I still seem to have an abundance of books and materials that are overwhelming my office space. The books are thrown into the bookcases haphazardly and I stack. I am constantly trying to create and tend to print papers and ideas in bulk. I am constantly thinking about multiple projects at once but need to find a method of being able to see it and not lose it in a file cabinet.

Part of my issue is a past experience. When I moved from teaching fourth grade to first grade I purged many materials I didn’t think I would use again. Then I moved into a reading specialist position and needed many of those materials since I worked with kindergarten through fifth grade. Since then, I am reluctant to get rid of much of anything.

I have used the Konmari method at home with success to clear clutter and purge.  The idea of holding onto only what I love was freeing and worked. Professional resources seem more difficult for me.

These are the Konmari questions to use:

Does it spark joy?

Is it necessary?

Does it work?

Does it have a designated place to live?

I need to evaluate if a resource is necessary or if it was effective. I need to determine if it is a resource I would share, and if not then I need to get rid of it. If it is something to share,  I need to formulate a plan of what type of PD it can be most effectively deployed.

A chart with a time frame for ideas may work for highlighting projects to work on,  or list on a page in the bullet journal. Some projects get snippets of time and not Deep Work scheduled time slots which may push it down the priority list.

Finding the time for this process may also be challenging.

Have you found an effective method of purging your educational resources? If so, please share in the comments.

Back to Running

Last week I started running again in the morning. I have been setting the alarm for 4:55 am in order to get out the door. Running in the morning means that I have to run a shorter distance, but I run every morning. The consistency is better for my fitness and motivation.

I have found the running is easier in the morning. I am trying to figure out if it is the change in the schedule. It could be that my brain is still asleep. It could be that it is dark and my eyes and brain are confused as to just how far I am running.

The temperatures have been cool and comfortable. I am glad to have the run done before my day actually starts.

I  am hoping the writing ideas flow. It will allow me to sort through the organization of the day especially when I am presenting.

What is something that you do consistently that makes a difference in the process?