Express Yourself

Be who you are and say how you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
--Dr. Seuss

Friday, September 26, 2014

New Day, New Post-Circus, Monkey and Ain't Nobody Got Time for That!

Sometimes you just know when enough is enough.  Sometimes you know when you are tired of being tired.  Sick and tired and tired of being sick.  Which is it?  I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Am I going to stay here and just complain or am I going to do something about it?  Right now, I am going to do something about it.  What is my plan of action?  Monkeys and circuses.  For now, my solution is just to let things go and fly away, far, far away from me.  I am dropping things and letting them out of my sphere of consciousness.  I shall use the phrase, "Not my monkeys, not my circus."  I like how that phrase sounds and I like the implications.  To me, it is not worth getting all worked up about things that I cannot control.  For example, I cannot control the way some people behave, the weather and the price of of tea in china. I cannot control endless traffic, time flying by, and the endless amounts of junk mail that I take out of my mail box daily.  Cannot control it, so why should I be so stupid as to pay attention to it? Not gonna do that.  I am also not going to worry about things that I cannot control.  Do you know why? Do you really want to know why?  I do not have any time in my life for excess stress.  I choose to exercise it from my life and to do what I can.  I cannot wait to put this into practice.  I have been saying those words to myself quite often. I plan to stay out of any drama from your dad, sister or mama.  Drama has got to go.  Someone shared a funny, but true video with me.  I loved it because Sweet Brown said,"Ain't nobody got time for that."In the middle of the monkeys and circus, I am going to breathe in and out and say, "Ain't nobody got time for that!"  I know I don't.Nope. I definitely don't have time for foolishness and rudeness. By the way, I just let the monkeys out of their cages.  The circus has moved to another part of town.  You might want to catch it down the street.  I didn't buy any tickets for  this one.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Driverless Car

How cool would this be to own a driverless car.  I would also like to order a car that can drive me to work without me having to drive.  Thinking a great stimulus for oral and written discourse.  The possiblities!

Derek Jeter Tribute Commercial

I just watched the Derek Jeter commercial from Gatorade.  I loved it and a tears came to my eyes.  Derek Jeter is the captain of the New York Yankees.  He leads by example.  His is a definite hall of fame shoe in.  I thought about reading and writing and how I could use this commerical to figure out the theme and to think about how the producers and directors used the images and music to bring the audience to inspiration and tears. I also thought about how this could be used as a stimulus for expository or narrative writing.  I don't want to ramble on, but I have to sleep tonight.  Enjoy this great commercial.  Gabby Cruz, I know you would love this!

Scratch and Itch-New Day, New Post

Just getting an itch.  Getting so excited about this future itch.  Usually my itches come from lack of Bendadryl and allergies to all things Houston.  I am allergic to the different pollens, mold and grasses around Houston.  When I first starting seeing my allergist, he said, "Welcome to Houston!"

When you have an itch, you usually scratch it.  Usually the itch might be something  negative, like something isn't going so great in your environment.  For me, that is usually the case, but not this time. No this time is different, way different.  This time, I cannot quiet this itch.  No amount of Benadryl, Claritin or even Zertec can quiet the rumblings sounds of the itch.  "Scratch, scratch, scratch!" This itch has been with me for such a long, long time.  I have satisfied these allergies numerous times and in numerous ways.  It is as if I was placating it with different answers, resolutions and some type of pacification.  Not any more.  This whisper has grown into a full blown lion's roar.  This roar can be described closely to a category five hurricane or a catastrophic Tsunami.  Definitely this cannot be ignored much longer.  I cannot and will not ignore it anymore.  Nope. That is not posssible. Sometime very soon, my attempts to satisfy this itch will be realized and I will be in more than my element.  I am so pumped about it.

The other day I became a little giddy when looking at books from a Scholastic Book Fair.   My giddiness heightened, when I spoke with  the Book Whisperer herself, Donalyn Miller.  I saw the books in a far different light.  My eyes lit up and the possibilities before me seemed endless.  Cannot, cannot, cannot, cannot wait to scratch this itch  soon.  Why have I waited this long is beyond me. How could I have walked away with such a precious gift? I really don't know, but what I do know is that it is about time.  Someday soon, I will be scratching this itch, without any regrets...only possibilities.  To be continued.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New Post New Day...Changes


Just sitting in my vehicle
contemplating life
Sitting and sippin' my McCafe
from Mickey Ds
Chilling on a cool September morn
Thinking 'bout next year
What will come...
Throwin' in the towel
Raisin' the white flag
Full surrender
A peace accord
of sorts
But can I afford?
Not to?
Just trudging forward
Hand to the plow
Blistered, tarnished hands
Sweat on my brow
Get it done
No words needed
Next year
... full bloom
Moving forward

Monday, September 22, 2014

C'mon Man!

I love to watch ESPN.  I especially love to watch Monday Countdown with Cris Carter, Chris Behrman, Tom Jackson, Coach Ditka and Keyshawn Johnson.  They crack me up with their commentary. One of my favorite segments is C'mon Man! Every week they show video footage of the head scratching blunders of NFL and NCAA College Football players and coaches.  If we could only do that same thing with those with whom we work.  How many times do I wish I could stop people and say, "C'mon man!"  Sometimes I just have to laugh and shake my head!  C'mon man! just sums it up!

New Post, New Day

What to post?  What to say?  What, really what went on today?

Today was  a very interesting day.  It can be compared to The Great White ride from Sea World San Antonio.  If you dare try to ride this one, you will have to surrender your glasses and get strapped.  This type of amusement park ride keeps you standing up while you experience two looptie loops.  If you have neck or back problems, this ride is not for you.

Today was nothing short of crazy for me.  I went from one place to another. One place was full of serenity and butterfly gardens.   if  I was in front of numerous firing squads taking target practice with semi automatic weapons.  Uzis anyone?  I was able to dodge many bullets along with the way, but felt wounded nonetheless.  Then my day ended in such a wonderful, wonderful fashion.  The food and company was nothing short of delightful.  The people were so nice and appreciative.  Nice doesn't even close to explaining how I felt to be among such caring individuals.

How does this happen?  One extreme to another.  I think I witnessed the spectrum!  I am glad that my day ended on a positive note.  That was what I needed. What a day!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Having A Great Writing Kind of Day Tracking the Movement of the Mind with Gretchen Bernabei

Gretchen Bernabei and Maureen Ucles
Today was a good day because we were in for a real treat.  Gretchen Bernabei came to SBISD to share her research and wisdom with us.  She has a wide variety of knowledge and tried and true practices in the teaching of writing.  I have been privileged to go to her workshops and read her numerous books for many years now.  Each time I attend one of her workshops, I learn something new.  Now, I as in the past, but more so than the past, I shout it from the rooftops.  Gretchen's work is authentic and truly priceless.  For anyone who teaches, you can adapt her strategies and process with all and in all subject areas.  If people only knew the value of her work, and many, many do, they would wait at the door for hours and hours like people do at Best Buy before the latest iPhone or Play Station product.  Many teachers ask me to help them with ideas for teaching writing.  Without hesitation, I recommend her books and ideas.  I use many of her ideas with students and teachers in the workshops and classroom demonstrations.  During Saturday camps, we use some of her kernel essays and BADABINGS.  I find her work invaluable in my teaching life.
In addition to being such a great resource, I have found Gretchen to be quite approachable.  Down to earth is the best way to describe her.  She is a teacher at heart.  She is a real live teacher who wants to share her experiences with others. She knows that we are all in this together and we may as well help each other out. I have shared my work with her and the different ways that I have used her work.  She listens and responds authentically.  That is one of the many qualities that I admire.
Today people were amazed at her generosity.  She shared many her ideas encapsulated in a zip drive. We downloaded lots of resources. That may have surprised many people here.  It is, not in the least, surprising to me, as this is standard practice for Gretchen.  Ever since I have gone to her sessions, she has done this.  I love this and I try to do the same with the people that I encounter.  She is a great example.

Today started out completely stormy and wet.  I trudged through some serious Houston rainy day traffic.  I left my house  an ungodly hour just to arrive on time.  I wanted to be prepared to receive all the many blessings that Gretchen would bestow upon our group.  Today, as I shut down my computer and got ready for my trek home, I feel fortunate to have spent the day with Gretchen and my friends.  I feel refreshed, renewed and rejuvenated(pitchfork!). We learned together, laughed together and shared the gift that I love(pitchfork!). We shared the many gifts that writing and conversation will inspire.  Great day, great moments, totally episodic (pitchfork!)!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Great Post By Vicky Spandel and Jeff Hicks-Stop the Sea of Read Ink

Check out this article by Vicky Spandel and Jeff Hicks on why we should stop the sea of read ink.  Will comment later.

Stop the Sea of Red Ink

Rainy Days Not So Bad

This week has been full of rain, rain, and more rain.  You would think that I would be tired of seeing gloomy clouds and buckets and buckets of rain.  I haven't had to drive in the torrential down pours so I must say that I have enjoyed this weather.  The Sun has not been peeking through lately and so the 80's temperature is quite wonderful to behold.  When I go out in the morning, I am not traumatized by the humidity.  Usually, as I go out the door, I am slammed with the sticky, disgusting humidity of Houston.  This week...not so much.  Not so much and not too bad.  I do not miss the Sun and I like the cool days thus far.  It is a nice change, to say the least.

We are in September and inching ever so close to October.  I hope this weather will bring on changes from the 90's to 80's and have the 80's, in October,  give way to beautiful November.

Yes, I have hope now.  I can feel it in the air.  These days seem to tease me with a hint of Autumn.  A hint of Autumn and November in Houston.  I so cannot wait for the temperatures to drop to the 70's during the day and the great sleeping 50's at night.  Turtle necks come out of the closet and little jackets and coats are dusted off.  I love the Fall weather, especially when November emerges.  I welcome November with open arms and a throw on my shoulder.  I welcome November with pumpkin smells and Starbucks Autumn flavored coffees.  I welcome November and Ohio State and Michigan.  November and the only game that really matters all year.  November, again, with pumpkin pie and hot apple cider with cinnamon on a Sunday morning, afternoon, evening or night.  Just November!  Ahhh November.  You can't get here fast enough.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Peaceful Photos-These Are Mine!

 I snapped a few photos this past year.  Some of these photos are of Corpus Cristi and Westchester, Ohio.  They represent peacefulness to me in some sort of way.  Love taking them.

Top Commercials for Writing and Reading Connections

I found this website that lists the top commercials. It is called Creative Blog Creative Blog I was looking through some for some reading and writing connections.  These would be great for writing stimulus and also for figuring out some themes or naming truisms.  Here are some cute ones that I like.

Here's one for descriptive language and purpose.  Imagery is a must.

Super Cute!  C'mon Eileen!

Love it!
Playin' With My Friends

Expository or Narrative?   You decide what angle and what you want to write about.  Meaning dictates form.

Point of view and imagination.

Guess What Day It Is?

I love the Geico commercials with the camel and hump day reference.  Since it is hump day, I decided to recall those videos.  Here is the camel and to spice it up, I found another type of commercial with the Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki.  Enjoy!  Guess what day it is?  Guess what day it is?  Guess, c'mon guess!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Indelible Moments Revised

Here are some videos that I might use for my presentation tomorrow.  We may or may not get to explore Indelible Moments.  Indelible moments comes from Gretchen's book Story of My Thinking.

Great Workshop with Alana Morris and Arcy Leon -NHCCTE

Alana Morris and Arcy Leon will present at the breakfast.  You don't want to miss this one.  Great breakfast, great company, great information.  For more information, go to the link below to download the flyer and registration form.

Flyer and Registration for Fall Breakfast

Gretchen Bernabei Is Coming To SBISD!

Come one, come all!  Did you hear the news?  Gretchen Bernabei is coming to Spring Branch this Friday and Saturday.  She will be presenting her research and practical applications to writing.  If you haven't been to one workshop on writing, then you really need to attend this workshop.  I have been in attendance at several of her workshops.  None of them disappoint.  I walk away renewed, motivated and with several new teaching tools.  She is totally laid back and engaging.  I love her humor and benefit from her wealth of experiences.  Take advantage of this opportunity.

Gretchen's books are also very, very helpful.  You can find them on Amazon and at QEP Professional Books.  I have used a lot of her resources from Crunchtime, Reviving the Essay, The Story of My Thinking and Fun Sized Academic Writing For Serious Learning and her blogs.

She will be also coming to Houston on October 6th at the Norris Center.  Go to this link to find out more: Gretchen's Houston Workshop

 She has two blogs that are very helpful. See below.

Bernabei Writing Tools
Trail of Breadcrumbs

I wasn't paid for this endorsement.  I believe in her work and it has made a great difference in my work and passion for teaching writing.  If you get a chance to experience one of her workshops, you will be blessed.

On Meeting Donalyn Miller

Donalyn Miller and Maureen Ucles
Today I had the great pleasure of meeting Donalyn Miller at Edgewood Elementary.  I had a meeting in the library, but I had no idea that I would meet up with Donalyn Miller.  On Friday I visited Edgewood for another meeting near the library and I noticed the Scholatic Book Fair.  Books are my weakness.  I buy too many for my budget or lack thereof.  As I was perusing the books, I noticed a display of professional books by Donalyn.  I was excited to see these great books be apart of the book fair.  Donalyn's The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild are engaging professional books that every teacher should have in their library.  I love the way that she writes in her books. It is a great narrative of her work over the years.  The fact that she is so candid with what worked and didn't work in her classroom makes these reads so endearing.  You enter in her classroom and do not want to leave. I could easily picture myself there.

Donalyn, as in her books, is so approachable. In the education world she is sort of a rock star.  Some people in that position might consider themselves above the rest of us peons.  Donalyn is the opposite. I carried on a great conversation with her today. It was as if I was speaking to one of my teacher colleagues.
Today, when I woke up, I had no earthly idea that I would meet a giant in literacy.  I walked into a meeting and my friend said matter of factly, "Well, you know that Donalyn Miller is coming here today."  I said, "Really? Stop lying!"  I couldn't believe it. Before I had to leave Edgewood this morning, I saw her chatting with the media specialist.  I spoke with her for a bit and snapped a photo. This chance encounter made my day, week and quite possibly month.  Not only that, but Donalyn tweeted out that she had met me.  Who does that?  She also followed me.  Of course I asked her to read this blog and be a contributor.  I am definitely going to follow up with that one.  I hope she will post very soon.
I read her blog and follow her on Twitter already.  I am posting some links below for you to explore the works of this wonderful woman and educator!  Wow!  What a day!

Donalyn's Blog-Book Whisperer
Donalyn on Twitter-donalynbooks

Friday, September 12, 2014

STAAR Writing Documents for 4th Grade

TEA has released more STAAR 4th Grade Writing documents.  There is a new scoring guide for the personal narrative and expository essay.  There is also a 2014 released test.  I have placed them in my Box account by folder.  I have also included the rubric, schematics, released tests and blueprints from 2012-present.  In other words, you will have all the STAAR 4th grade writing documents in English and Spanish if you choose to use the link below.  You could also access them on the TEA website and download.  Enjoy!

Box 4th Writing Docs

Monday, September 8, 2014

Great Day At Ridgrecrest!

I spent my morning at Ridgrecrest Elementary School.  Michelle and Leverie invited me to join her team in kicking off  the Literacy Challenge.  Their goal is to have teachers and students read 4,080,000 minutes by May!  Wow!

It was so much fun starting off my morning with fun style dances that I learned on stage. The students were so excited about starting their year off reading.  There was even a video of the whole school caught reading!  It was so creative and fun!

My hats off to Ridgecrest Elementary and their Literacy Team!  You rock reading and literacy!

Here are some photos of the morning!  I am the horse and Michelle Garcia is the unicorn.  Enjoy! There will be a video upcoming.