Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Currently December

Apparently the only time I blog anymore is for Farely's Currently... (blogger fail)

The life of a working teacher/mother/wife/aspiring writer is busy, so blogging has taken a backseat. However I do have something exciting to share...

My 6th graders complete NaNoWriMo this week and were all WINNERS!

NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November.

My students met their lofty word count goals and have completed rough drafts of their first novels! Now begins the long tedious process of editing and revising as we get our novels ready for printing in January. Fast Pencil (a sponsor of NaNoWriMo) is professionally printing paperback novels for students who met their word count goal! My students can't wait to see their stories in print!

And, just to brag a little, I've peeked at their writing... It's pretty darn good!

Check out this passage:
Autumn couldn’t distinguish how long it was before she had woken up. Thinking she should just sit and wait for death to come, but then she realized Summer was still in danger. Trying to crawl out of the car she sees Adrianna lying there. DEAD.
“ADRIANNA NO YOU ARE NOT DYING TODAY.”  Autumn yells, holding Adrianna in her arms, now covered in her best friend’s blood. She places her face against her chest, crying, hoping her tears would bring her back to life just like in the movies. After a few more minutes Autumn crawls out of the car and whispers “Goodbye Adrianna.” With tears still dripping down her face, Autumn starts to run as fast as her injured leg will allow.

And this one:
You know that feeling when someone’s watching you, studying your movement and your breathing? Well, I’m feeling that right now, and I’m not appreciating it waking me up at one o’clock in the morning. Now I’m wide awake and there is no way I’m falling back asleep without doing a little investigating first. On my way out my bedroom door, I see them. Green, glowing eyes right there across the room.
I took part in NaNoWriMo with my students too! Here's something from my work in progress:

The sound of trees rustling in the breeze drifts through my window. It’s as if the trees are whispering secrets to be carried on by the wind. The way school children play telephone. Each tree changes the secret slightly, adding the arrangement of their leaves and branches to the cacophony of nighttime sounds. Their secret ends with me, drifting into my window, gently tickling my ear, and lulling me to sleep. Their soft breath wraps around me like a blanket and carries me into morning.
I am so glad that I decided to embark on this journey with my students. I was hesitant to at first, convinced that writing nonstop for a month would create anarchy in my classroom and start the Great Language Arts Rebellion of 2015.

However, I read this book over the summer Teach Like a Pirate, by Dave Burgess. In it he said that teachers need to be passionate. Burgess wrote "It doesn't matter what subject you teach. You can become totally engaging to your audience if they can feel your passion and love for what you are doing. You will draw students in as if by some magnetic force." By participating in NaNoWriMo along with my students I let them be a part of something that I am very passionate about. They mirrored my enthusiasm for writing and were eager to start typing each day.

Every Friday during NaNoWriMo we had "Proud Paragraph Parties" where students shared their favorite paragraph they had written during the week. I shared what I was working on as well and in doing so I became one of them. We were equals, all working and collaborating together. It was such a rewarding experience!

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Currently November

I can't believe it's November already!! Time to link up with Farley for this month's currently:

Fall is my FAVORITE season of all time! I love the colors, the smells, and snuggling up with loved ones on cool autumn nights. However this fall I have a whole new reason to be excited... NaNoWriMo (aka - National Novel Writing Month)!!

I stumbled across this over the summer as I embarked on my own writing adventure. Essentially it is the idea that if you write 1,666 words per day for the month of November you will have a 50,000 word novel at the end of the month. Sounds like a neat idea, but requires a whole lot of commitment and self-discipline!

My 6th grade Language Arts class got excited about a journal prompt one day and asked if they could turn it into a longer writing piece (most asked to write novels!) So I went to the NaNoWriMo site and found that they have a whole Young Writers Program!

They have a whole curriculum with lesson plans and FREE workbooks for all grade levels (elementary, middle, and high school). I printed them out and bound them for my class and they were super excited. Here's the final product:

The best part, the whole workbook is written in language a middle schooler would use! My reluctant-to-do-anything 6th graders devoured this and actually read ahead!!

I also scored a NaNoWriMo classroom kit! It included a poster for tracking progress, stickers, buttons, and a deck of writers block cards:

I am so excited to begin writing with them tomorrow!! We've been working on the prep activities in the workbook and they have some pretty creative and unique story ideas. I've reserved the laptop cart for the whole month so we can write every day! My plan is to try a flipped classroom strategy where students watch video lessons at home for homework and then complete the actual work in class. Nothing but writing for our whole 45 minute block!!

If this sounds like something your students might be interested in, head on over to NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program.

Don't forget to head back to Farley's page for more great Currently posts!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

NaNoWriMo :)

I had a breakthrough last Friday with my 6th grade Language Arts class!

They loved Friday's journal prompt so much that they asked if they could turn them into short stories or novels. I had planned to have students choose a journal entry to develop into a larger writing piece later on in the school year. However, their enthusiasm convinced me to embark on the adventure now!

The biggest question was how to structure novel writing for my 6th grade students whom I only see for 45 minutes a day?

During the launch of my own novel writing adventure this summer, I discovered NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It's a great website designed to get you writing and keep you motivated. I remembered that November is NaNoWriMo (the timing couldn't be more perfect)! I checked out their site and found that they have a Young Writers Program geared towards educators and classrooms.

Best of all... they have FREE workbooks you can download for your students! Click on the logo to the right to visit their site and check out their free resources for educators. I will be binding workbooks together for my students tomorrow morning :)

I used NaNoWriMo's middle school workbook to plan out the remaining weeks till writing begins in November. The workbook includes everything students will need to plan their stories, including content vocabulary definitions. I'm going to try to FLIP my classroom, having students complete the lessons and do most of the reading at home so we can focus on writing in the classroom. Here's my rough outline:

Check out NaNoWriMo's free notebooks {HERE}. They have one for elementary, middle, and secondary grade levels! It is an amazing resource. I can't believe it's FREE!!

I can't wait to set out on this adventure with my class! I think we are going to learn a lot from each other! I will post updates along the way :)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Coming Back with the Sunday Scoop!

I've been a bad, bad blogger....
Not quite sure what happened in the month's of August and September, but it seems that I have completely neglected this little blog.
A comeback is much needed and I can't think of a better way than to kick it off with Teaching Trio's Sunday Scoop!

I've taken on a new teaching role this year... I have always taught self-contained classrooms, however this year I looped with my students and now teach 5th and 6th grade ELA in a middle school model! It has been so hard for me to wrap my head around the concept of switching classes. I only get them for 45 minute periods and it goes by so fast!!

Since I have most of the same students as last year, I wanted to change my room up for them. I didn't want last year's fourth graders to come into fifth grade feeling like they were still stuck in an elementary classroom. So I spent the summer working on some new decor, rearranging furniture, and organizing materials. I'm pretty thrilled with how it came out!

To put the icing on the cake... My SMART Board was installed this week!!! I'm so excited to use it!!!

Here's one of the quotes up on my wall. Soon the whole display will be available at my TpT store!

Thanks for taking a tour of my room! Don't forget to stop by the Teaching Trio for more Sunday Scoops!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Currently August

It's August already!?!? Where has the summer gone?

I can't believe that there are only 3 more weeks of summer left... I need to get back into my classroom to start setting things up. Yeah, I know I still have plenty of time, but when you have three little kids in tow you have to set up a little at a time. An hour in the classroom here or there is all I usually get. So I have to do as much prep as I can here at home.

Check out this super cool poster I made for my classroom library:
(You can snag them for your classroom HERE)

I'm LOVING our new driveway! The before and after difference is amazing! It will be so much easier to maintain in the winter now:

Writing has gone well this summer and I'm glad to be finally setting this dream in motion. As always though, there is never enough time when you've got three little boys to chase after! Progress is slow, but I am determined!

11316 / 80000 words. 14% done!

Happy August everyone! Make the most of your last days of summer!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Writing Update... My favorite character

Writing a novel is tough. I feel like one of my students; complaining that I have all these ideas in my head but can't seem to get them out onto the "digital" page.

I'm moving along and making progress:

8767 / 80000 words. 11% done!

But it is slow going with three active boys running around. I thought summer vacation was supposed to be relaxing!

I just finished writing a new scene and I'm loving the way a secondary character is coming to life!

“I’m a coming! Be right with you.” came a low, gravely voice from the back of the store. His hair entered the room before he did; like a dandelion circling his head, jet-black except for a small white streak slightly off center. “What can I do you for today?”

The gruffness of the man’s voice did not match his friendly face. Two shining eyes made contact with me from behind his glasses. He gasped as if in recognition and his feet faltered slightly as he stepped out from behind the counter. I quickly looked at the agents around me to confirm what I had just seen, but they were too busy taking in the shoddy state of the shop. Their mouths hung open in an obvious sign of disgust.

“Wh-Why hello agents.” The man said, his eyes finally registering the presence of the three agents in the room.

There was something familiar about this man. I had never been to see a Tech Mechanic before, and I am sure that I had never seen this man before either hair like his was something one would take notice of. 

“So how can I help you today?” the man asked, looking from the agents back to me. I continued to study his face to see if it would trigger any sense of remembrance. There were small lines in the dark skin around his eyes, evidence that this man smiled often. His hands looked weathered and worn after a life of hard work. Eyebrows like woolly caterpillars crept along the thick frames of his glasses. He wore a dark blue work shirt with the name Abbit sewn neatly onto a patch on the left pocket. The man’s look was unique and worthy of remembering yet I still had no memory to attach to him. 
I just couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow I knew him.
I have this great mental image of Abbit and he has such an important role in the story. He's not the protagonist, but he is one of my favorites!

Your thoughts? Is Abbit a character you would like to know more about? 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Taco Tuesday... Pizza Rolls!

Today I am sharing my middle son's favorite weeknight dinner...

Now, as you can see, I can not take credit for this recipe. This one comes from the talented minds @ Super Healthy Kids. I found the recipe one day while looking up ways to get kids to eat veggies. My son wouldn't touch veggies with a 39 and a half foot pole! But he loves pizza!

The trick is in the sauce...

All of these great veggies get sautéed then blended with pizza sauce. It's so yummy and you can't even taste the veggies in there! I usually make the sauce over the weekend and keep it in the fridge to use during the week. It also freezes well!

Here's a peek at the process...

For the full recipe head on over to Super Healthy Kids! The recipe includes a recipe for home made pizza dough. I've never made it; I just buy the ball of fresh pizza dough from the produce section at Stop & Shop. Prep can get kinda messy on your counter, but if you make the sauce ahead, this is a quick and easy weeknight meal!

Don't forget to linkup your favorite recipes below!

An InLinkz Link-up

Have a great week :)

Monday, July 6, 2015

My first page - a work in progress...

I woke up with butterflies in my stomach this morning!

In my quest to make this the "summer of writing", I sent the first page of the novel I am working on to published author Dianne K. Salerni (She's the amazing author of the middle grades Eighth Day series). I stumbled across Dianne's blog last week and submitted my first page to her "First Impressions" posts. She posts an unpublished author's first page on her blog, offering up her valuable wisdom and expertise to help the writer make it the best opening page it can be.

So, this morning my first page went up on her blog (cue queasy stomach)! I knew it was far from perfect and I'm so grateful to get feedback from published authors and Dianne's fans. I've got some issues with tense to fix and a little plot editing to do, but nothing I can't handle.

I want to thank Dianne and the other authors on her team (Krystalyn and Marcy) for providing the opportunity for me to grow as a writer.

Stop by her blog to check it out and let me know what you think!

I've read the Eight Day (loved it!) and now I'm on Inquisitor's Mark!

Progress update... : )

6172 / 80000 words. 8% done!

Thanks for your continued support!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Currently July... Working on a Dream

July is here which means that it is time to link up again with Farley for her amazing Currently Party!

I've decided that this summer I will start working on a dream that has been nagging in the back of my mind for a long time now... I'm going to write a novel. YIKES!
I've always enjoyed writing and telling stories. There are tons of ideas floating around in my head, just never enough time to put them down on paper.
But this summer there are no more excuses! I am making sure I set aside time to write.

I'm off to a decent start...

4487 / 80000 words. 6% done!

I've joined in on this 1,000 words per day challenge. Hope I can keep up! Check out my new {WRITING} page for weekly updates.

The hard part comes next... sharing my writing with others. So here goes nothing! This is the paragraph I just wrote (literally 5 minutes ago):

Gram handed me the bacon and toast, neatly wrapped in a pocket of white linen. My breath caught in the back of my throat as I realized that I’d seen this cloth before. My fingers instinctively traced the edge of the fabric till they found the small embroidery along the edge. Feeling each stitch, afraid that I might miss one, I let the name “Grace Elizabeth Maple” pass slowly underneath my fingertips. “My little GEM” Dad had always called her. The pain their absence caused was boundless, but just holding this handkerchief in my hands brought back warm memories and the strength to continue on. 
Once I have more I'll be looking for some readers. Any takers?!

Happy July :)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sequel Saturday

There is nothing like finishing a good book
& finding out it has a sequel! 
Even better if it's part of a series!
Sequel Saturday celebrates second place,
the books that come behind great books.
So grab a cup of coffee, cozy up on the couch,
& read on about your favorite book's younger siblings.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Welcome to the first post in my Sequel Saturday series!

Today I want to share two sequels I'm currently reading and enjoying very much. The first in each of these series prompted a swift detour form my summer reading list and a rushed order from Barnes and Noble :)

The Variant Series by Robison Wells
I found Variant at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale back in May. It is a fast paced story about Benson Fisher, a boy who has spent his life bouncing from foster home to foster home, until he receives a scholarship to Maxfield Academy. Benson thinks this will be the point in his life when things finally start to turn around... boy was he wrong. Now he is trapped in a school determined to teach him nothing useful and monitor his every move. Maxfield Academy has no adults and the students have formed gangs in order to stay alive. Detention = death in this stunning debut novel. Feedback picks up right where Variant leaves off and proves to be equally riveting!

The Eighth Day Series by Dianne K. Salerni
I ordered the Eighth Day from my classroom Scholastic Reading Club flyer at the end of the school year. It's about 13-year old, and newly orphaned, Jax waking up one morning to a world without people. The following day everyone's back and Jax is left feeling crazy. But with the help of his guardian Jax learns that he is part of a select group of people who have the power to experience a magical Eighth Day, an extra 24 hours between Wednesday and Thursday. The story is exciting and rooted in Arthurian legend and magic! It was a big hit in my classroom and I'm sure the sequel will not disappoint!

Check back soon for full reviews on all books featured here!

What are you reading this summer?
Happy reading :)