Writing Time

When my students come to writing we usually begin with a story. We practice reading as writers, reflecting on how the author uses a certain writing technique and how it sounds to the reader.

Next, we write. I mean we, because when the kids begin to write I do as well. I usually only write about 3 minutes before conferencing with individual students about their work, but in that time I get to think about my own life for a few moments and remember. Here are a few of these writings…

St. Patrick’s Day

I was born on St. Patrick’s Day. Carried home from the hospital in a shamrock, it immediately became an important holiday in my family. On my birthday, March 17th, the world wore green. All for me! Or so I thought. Parties included games like “drop the shamrock in a jar” and we ate green cake with green frosting yearly. I always wanted to be Irish..

In kindergarten my birthday is especially vivid in my memory–all because of Abe Galinsky. He pinched me–and I was in green! Ok, so it was only one tiny green leaf on a black ladybug dress. But it should have counted! It was my birthday, after all. I don’t really know if I can forgive him for that.

Perfume Cat

In a velvety box tied with a ribbon, inside a cardboard box labeled “memories,” under a ping pong table in my parent’s house, lies a cat figurine. It used to be filled with perfume, so when you twist the top of the cat off (it opens like a bottle) it still smells nice–like my Great Grandma Ragna. That’s who it belonged to. She died when I was 7, and my parents let me walk through her house and keep 1 thing to remember her by. I always like this perfume cat she had in the bathroom, so it was an easy choice.

Writing from the point of view of a thing

I am a ring.
I am valuable, a burden, a debt.
I shower with you, I feel every hand shake, I never leave. At least I’m not supposed to. I get thrown when my owners are made. My life on the wearer begins at a wedding, or at a proposal.

I am a pen. I slide along pages as if I control my own destiny, but I move with the writer. I create words that create laughter, tears, and anger. My movements can start revolutions and end wars. I have been around many years. I love my job.

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I wrote nine pages since Monday!
She’s chasing me with boogers at recess!
I left my PE clothes at home…
I left my homework in my bedroom..
I was with my dad this weekend…
I don’t know..

-blank stare- (sometimes speaking louder than words)

We still need 3 more object pronouns!!
He’s bleeding!
They both have 100% of their bodies.
Can I go to the bathroom?
Can I return this book?

Can I take a test?
Can we use the pillows?
Do we have homework?
What is our homework?
Do we clean the lunch tables today?
What are we supposed to do?
-quiet- The kids are at art.

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How did writing feel?

“How did writing in your notebooks for 10 minutes today feel?” This was the question I asked 3 classes of fifth graders–ranging in writing abilities from about 2nd grade level all the way up. The answers each time? “Peaceful.” “Calm.” “It was so quiet that I felt like I was the only one here and I could picture my story in my head like a movie.”

These are some of the kids who talk all the time–especially when they’re not supposed to. They probably like to talk even more than me.

We live in a noisy world, and we rarely take the time to really reflect on something that we want to reflect on. When my students took the time to write about something that interested them, and they forced themselves to be quiet in a noisy world, they felt peace.

This is why I blog. This is why I write when I ask my students to write. It’s all about taking the space we need to reflect on our lives, our experiences, who we are, and even what our imaginations can create. This helps me to be healthy emotionally and socially, and I hope it allows my students to become healthier, too.

Side note: Today I wrote poems about a Stenguin Berry (a penguin-strawberry) and a peel (a potato that is also an eel). It doesn’t always have to be serious, sometimes our imaginations just need some space to breathe.

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Filled to the brim with hopes, hopes overflowing into prayers

Any other teachers feeling stressed? It’s not the bulletin boards being imperfect or the fact that a few of my posters may fall down due to humidity, it’s the fact that I have been given a lot of responsibility. A class of students who can become confident readers over the course of the next year, or who can end the year with only minimal gains compared to day 1. There are so many resources available–will I choose the ones that allow the most time to work with students? Will the technology allow me to do things that weren’t possible a year ago? Will the technology get in the way of my relationships with students? What are the real goals–strong student leaders or strong students readers? Obviously both, but I may not be able to focus on both. And when in the world am I supposed to have time to develop that fluency binder I want so badly?

I have so many dreams for the year, and know they won’t all come true, but at this point I’m feeling filled to the brim with hopes. And these hopes overflow into prayers. Prayers that my students’ FAST scores go straight up to the moon. Prayers that my students’ trust in me never wavers. Prayers that I would have the patience to listen–really listen–to each kid who walks in my door. Prayers that I would be wise beyond my years, and overcome challenges related to my weaknesses, my limited experiences, and more. Prayers for words to say that would express to my students just how much I care about them, and how much they need faith in one who is greater than me–or the principal–or even their parents. Prayers for relationship with colleagues to flourish, and not become negative. Prayers that I can always beeeee positive!

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Why do fish swim?

“A fish doesn’t swim to do fishy things, or because that is it’s job, or because he thinks he is supposed to…he swims because he is a fish.”

I came across this quote (I paraphrased it) in a weekly gospel class our church has been hosting this summer. This might not sound anything like the gospel, but hear me out.

As I think about my “Christian life,” I think about how much I should be praying, reading the Word, sharing my faith, making disciples, etc. and this all feels like a burden, like something on my to-do list. I know that these things bring me joy and peace, but they are still on the list for stuff to do.

But if my identity is found in Jesus Christ, and His Spirit dwells in me, and I am part of his family–I would be praying! I want to pray because I’m God’s family, and that’s what families do–talk. They don’t talk because they should, but because they are families. Their actions flow out of their identity. 

A few words from a prayer journal last night: “Help me to embrace and believe with all of me that my identity is in you. I’m a fish, so I swim. It’s not a burden or something I should do later–It’s who I am. May my identity lead to action…I want to be yours, Lord. Am I yours? I don’t swim very often, how could I be a fish? I think about swimming, but it feels like a burden. Make me a fish, that I might swim. Make me yours, that I might pray, encourage, and make disciples.”

Don’t get my wrong, I don’t actually want to be a fish and learn to swim. Hopefully you understand the analogy here :) It really changed the way I look at my “Christian life.”

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The Rockies: Where I’m Not a Tourist

After a week in the Rocky Mountains near Estes Park, Colorado with my husband, mom, dad, brother, sister, brother-in-law, uncle, and long-time family friend, I think it may be time to reflect on why I like this place so much.

Formidable. That’s the word that comes to mind when I think about the awe the mountains inspire in me. I begin to drive through Big Thompson Canyon and know what’s coming. I see the flowing river, steep cliffs just asking to be climbed, and I know that I’m getting close to another home.


My childhood home no longer belongs to my family, but the view of Longs Peak from anywhere in RMNP reminds me of growing up. The meadows in Glacier Basin Campground remind me of reading and frisbee golf and building rock paths to the bathrooms. The group loop reminds me of bike rides with a walkie talkie, just in case I couldn’t find my way back “home” (probably on Loop A or B). The drive into Moraine Park Campground reminds me of the 1 year that we saw a juvenile bear looking for snacks under large rocks. The firewood and ice shop that’s open from 5:30 to 8:30 nightly reminds me of the orange push-pops I’d munch on before S’Mores and while talking to the couple that’s been selling this stuff to the campgrounds for decades. A good pile of firewood makes me want to grab the yellow handled ax and start chopping away. Seeing an elk on the side of the road makes me want to stop and take a picture, but not block traffic like those “tourists” who have never seen the wildlife here. Not me, I’m just visiting my July home. Not a tourist. Well, not completely, anyway.

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I have a lot of things I’d like to say to both “sides” of today’s breaking news, but I think what would do the most good is to pray that God would be glorified today and every day. Today is about the LGBTQ community, and I want everyone in that community to know Jesus. I pray that the church would be careful in its reaction so that the goal is not moralizing everyone according to our individual standards, but the goal would be sharing the gospel. Let God judge individuals and this country. Let us only love.

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