If only I’d known…

If only I’d known…
That I was enough.
That what he said wasn’t real.

“I told you…”
If only I’d known…
He didn’t.

“You misunderstood.”
If only I’d known…
I didn’t.

“What’s wrong with you?”
If only I’d known…
Nothing.  Nothing is wrong with me.

If only I’d known…
That I was enough.
That what he said wasn’t real.

Now I know.

I’m from…

I’m from colored popcorn.

From Pledge and wooden floors.


I’m from sleepovers and movie nights.

From summers in the pool.


I’m from paper and pencils.

From Oregon trail and dial-up.


I’m from divorce and tense pick-ups.

From being the in-between.


I’m from support checks carried back and forth.

From “Your father…”


I’m from kids table and rules.

From “Do as I say, not as I do.”


I’m from messages and stresses

That I don’t want Troy to be from.


What will Troy be from?

That is up to me.

What if…?

Trying out some poetry in preparation for our poetry writing unit:


What if there was no CCRAP test? 

I might get to teach students what they need,

without the pressure of this test

in the background of my mind.

What if my worth as an educator

wasn’t decided by a standardized test?

I could stress less, smile more.

I could make a bigger difference.

What if there was no CCRAP test? 

I would not be sitting here dreading going to school

Dreading the next few weeks of testing

And everything that goes along with it.

What if educators made the decisions?

There would be no CCRAP test.

SOL #30 – “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”

The sudden changes in mood and conversation with fifth graders still surprises me sometimes often.

I had a couple students at my table during reading workshop today.  We read Langston Hughes’ Mother to Son and were talking about it.  Really they were talking about it and I was listening composing this slice in my head.  It is amazing what these kids are capable of understanding and the conversations they have:

Well, son, I’ll tell you:

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

It’s had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor –


But all the time

I’se been a-climbin’ on,

“I’m picturing the son leaving for college.  And the mom is saying that life is going to be hard, but he should keep trying.”

“Yeah, but I think she wrote it on a note.  Cause people don’t just go around and talk in poems.”

“No one’s life is easy.  Everyone has struggles.”

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

Where there ain’t been no light.

“It means there are lots of struggles, obstacles.  She’s saying there are hard things in life.”

“And you think things are better, you’re done.  And then there’s more.”

Don’t you set down on the steps

‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.

Don’t you fall now –

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

“She’s telling her son not to give up. ”

“Plus, if you sit on a tack, that would really hurt.”

“And falling off the stairs and landing on tacks and nails…”

The sudden changes in mood and conversation with fifth graders still surprises me sometimes often.

Tired of Being the Squeaky Wheel


The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

That’s the way it works.


I don’t want to be the squeaky wheel.


I sit in the meeting

Knowing someone needs to speak.

But will they?

It needs to be said.


Please say something.

It needs to be said.

Everyone is thinking it.



I’ll say it.

It needs to be said.


The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

That’s the way it works.


I don’t want to be the squeaky wheel anymore.



Writing is…

Image 3-9-16 at 7.58 PM
We are participating in the Classroom SOL.  This is a post by one of my students.  Although I didn’t publish it in order to protect the privacy of another student and his family, I am happy that he was able to put this experience into words.

Writing is healing.

It is a way to process thoughts and emotions.

For adults.

For children.


This challenge has allowed my students

To build writing stamina.

To share moments of their day.

To process their reactions to these moments.

To be heard.


This challenge has allowed me

To hear their thoughts.

To see what they find is important.

To learn more each of them.

To listen.


Writing is healing.

It is a way to process thoughts and emotions.

For adults.

For children.

Image 3-9-16 at 8.09 PM
Different student.  Expressing the power of writing in a few words.


Creating Writers

I am in day three of a twelve day workshop with the Illinois Writing Project and it is already a fantastic experience.  I have learned so much in just a few days, but I have also realized how far I have come in my writing instruction in two short years.  You know how when you see your kid every day and so you don’t always notice how tall his is until one day the top of his head comes above your chin?  Well, that is how I feel about writing in my classroom.

I think about where I was with my knowledge two summers ago – just learning about workshop.  Two summers ago I was reading through Lucy’s Units of Study for third grade.  I was taking notes, wondering if this would work.  All of my thoughts were hypothetical.  It was going to be my first year as a classroom teacher, after four years as a reading teacher.  It was also my school’s first year implementing workshop and Lucy.

Now, I see how far I have come and how much my students have grown.  I know what aspects of my writing instruction and workshop need to be strengthened.  I know where to look to find resources.  All of a sudden, I realize how much I know and how much of that knowledge has been gained in the last two years.

When asked to write a poem using only prepositional phrases today, I ended up thinking about how writing workshop has been essential in developing my third grade writers.  Writers with skills, willing to write, and confident in their writing.  Writers writing EVERY day.  But just like my son’s height and my writing instruction, they don’t really realize what is happening until the end.  Until that all important publishing.

at the beginning

at war with

with the help of

in collaboration

for better or worse

at a distance

by my watch

in confidence

in the end

to THEIR astonishment

National Poetry Month

We have been busy in third grade with learning about poetry through reading and writing.  Check out everything we are doing.

We investigated similes and metaphors in music.  Check out this video I found on YouTube to use in your classroom.

We looked at objects through the eyes of a scientist and through the eyes of a poet.  On day one we modeled and then did guided practice.  Then, on day two students brought in their own object for independent practice.



Students wrote many different types of poems and combine them into a poetry book.  They also choose one original poem to share in our 3SB Poetry Slam!


Poem on the Pavement  Each kid choose a poem and wrote it outside on the pavement for others to read and enjoy.


Poem in Your Pocket Day On April 24th, students chose a poem to keep in their pocket and then in the afternoon we combine with the other third grade class to share our poems.  They walked around the room and read their poems to each other.  What great fluency practice!

Here is one poem that a student wrote and chose to put in his pocket.  This was a word-list poem.  Students chose three random words from a bag and then had to write a free verse poem using those three words.  His words were game, spider, and I can’t remember which was the third.  But it turned out great!


April isn’t over yet, but our study of poetry is coming to a close.  We will be working of personal responses in reading this coming week and then our study will be complete!  What an exciting and busy month!