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

Monday, November 30, 2015

Verbs and Proofs

I made this video tonight to show my students the review of the proofs from Grammar Keepers. They liked the noun video. I think that they will like this one. I don't think I will use this template and characters again. They talk too fast. I suppose they are acting the part being boxed robots and all.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

11 Minute Essay-Recording Myself Writing

I recorded myself writing during the 11 Minute Essay. It may be boring to some, but others may be interested in seeing how this works in real time. For those of you interested, I hope you will find this helpful.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Expository Structures-Kernel Essays in Action with Gretchen Bernabei

Here is some video footage that I shot during Gretchen's visit to Houston in November. You will see her guide us through a kernel essay.

Nouns! Produced with Nawmal and Camtasia

I added some callouts to the video. Hope you find it helpful.

Nouns! Yeppers! My Second Nawmal Video!

I waited and waited and waited and waited some more! I have been waiting for a millennium for Xtranormal to come back. How I loved making videos with Xtranormal. The site went down about 3 or so years ago. Another company resurrected the company. I would check back intermittently to see when this would happen. Finally in September there was finite news that Xtranormal would be resurrected with the company Nawmal. I added myself to their website email list. They announced that the educator's site would be up by December. Today, I received an email that they are up and running. I produced two videos today using the site. Now, I can do more with my classroom and Google Sites. Yay!  Here is my first educational video about nouns. I fused some of the things that I am currently studying with my students, along with Gretchen Bernabei's Grammar Keepers. Here goes!

The Bully-Students Recite Donald Graves's Poem

I made two videos tonight. My students recite Donald Graves's poem The Bully and the other video shows my students practicing the poem in a group setting. It was fun to do this with them and to see some of their expressions.

Friday, November 27, 2015


Los alumnos de mi clase tuvo la oportunidad de recitar poesia en espanol. Habia varios grupos que recitaba el poema titulada Honduras. Estaba grabado en la clase en noviembre.

More Grammar Keeper Snippets-Possessives

More Snippets from Grammar Keepers

Here is another video that I produced. I attended the Grammar Keeper workshop. Gretchen Bernabei presented a full day workshop in Houston on November 11th. I took some video footage so that I could share it with my teammates and any person who would be interested in teaching grammar in context. These are snippets of certain times in the workshop. I wasn't able to record from my camcorder. I used my phone. I ran out of battery for the pm though. I hope you find it helpful

Example of Student Journal

Psst! Statement and Students

Here is a video of my students performing the Psst! Statement from Gretchen Bernabei's Grammar Keepers. This videos shows part of the process. There will be more videos to come.

Grammar Keepers and Gretchen Bernabei

I attended Gretchen Bernabei's Grammar Keepers workshop in early November. I took many videos and photos. I didn't have enough time to do anything with them until today. I know it is Black Friday. I don't like crowds and waiting in long lines. Instead of being out spending my cash, I decided to be nice to my checking account and produce videos.

My motivation for producing these videos is to share with my team and other people who might find these snippets helpful. My sincerest wish is that you do find these videos helpful. Even though I was in attendance, I will go back to these videos to remind me of a few things.

You could purchase Grammar Keepers from Amazon or QEP Professional Books.

I have also added some photos of the workshop.  I included some photos of quotes that are note worthy.

Student Journal 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Two Page Views

Two Page Views?

by M Ucles

Two page views
What's the world coming to?
I got two pages views
nothing in the new
going through my head

Two page views
on Tues-
Can't believe it
What a scandal
I can't handle
just two
page views

Two page views
all time low
might eat crow
and tal vez
in the towel
on those two-paged-
blasted views

Two page view
gonna call 
my crew
get the mind going
words jumping
'round and 'round
alliteration nation
some similes
straight metaphors
to the Earth's core
words dropping 
some personification...
resolution's nigh
for my
two page views


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Being Thankful

As I approach Thanksgiving, I truly do have so much to be thankful. It is that time of year...time to reflect and count my blessings.

 I made a huge decision to step down from my district job and join the ranks of the the hardest working people I know...teachers. It had been 11 long years since I had my own class of 20-28 students. In those 11 years I can proudly say that I was very close to the classroom and chose to be that way. Any chance that I could get to work with teachers, I did. Any chance of going and working consecutively in classrooms, you would see me there. In fact, I could probably count on my hand the number of times that I was physically at my work desk last year. You would rarely see me there because I was taught (by a great leader named Cathie Robinson) that an instructional specialist must be about serving those who serve the most. She taught me to always work along side teachers every minute of every day. I just happened to love doing that, so it was up my alley.

The last two years of my district job, I was called into numerous meetings. Even though I longed to be on campuses full time, there were times, more often than not, that I was called back to attend meetings and such. My heart tugged and pulled me strongly toward the direction of the campus and classroom. I listened attentively and complied. I remember facilitating a new teacher orientation meeting in August of the previous year. I envied those new teachers and I told them, "You are the luckiest people on the world. You get to work with kids everyday." That's when I truly realized that I had to move back to the classroom and the campus. 

Now I have been in the classroom full time since August 23rd.  I have a class of 21 wonderful students. From day one, I knew that this was the best place for me.  I asked myself, "Why did you ever leave in the first place?" There were no second thoughts or lamenting my decision in the least.
I was ecstatic to be with such wonderful young minds, so full of potential.  

But then the paperwork mounted, lesson plans were due, reports needed to be run, dismissal tags had to be handed out, and progress reports were to be completed.  I became sick a few times too many. I never seemed to get well. I swallowed a ton of antibiotics. (The pharmacy knows my car when I visit.) I  also was in the emergency room a twice and had visits to my doctor since August. My head was spinning!

What do I think now?  After all of the stress and calls upon my time? I wouldn't trade it for any district job. I love what I do. I am the luckiest person on the face of this earth. I get to work with kids everyday. I get to work with kids who tell me not to drink coffee because it will bother my stomach. I get to work with kids who make me laugh and cry.(I cried because their writing was so exceptional and inspiring.) I get to work with kids who go home and have ludic reading with their parents. I get to work with kids who during a 10 minute free writing time ask me, "Can we write a poem?" I say, "Of course, you are the writer, you decide." Then I hears the sounds of YES! fill the room. I get to work with students who beg me daily for Ludic Reading and ask me, "What did you write last night? Did you write another poem or story?" I get to work with brilliant minds who long to create blogs and videos. I get to work with kids who jump up and down with excitement when Diary of a Whimpy Kid Old School has been delivered or make me have book lotteries because everyone wants to read Crenshaw and any book I recommend. I get to work with such excited learners who during fire drills ask if they can bring a book or their journals so not to lose any time. They are the reason!

I love my school. I love the people that I work along side. The team that I am a part of are so very fun and down to earth. They are one devoted group of teachers that surrender so much of their time for the good of our students. They are to be commended for their work ethic and constant care of the students. I would have no problem putting my daughter in any of their classrooms. They are class personified. 

The administrators with whom I work are first class. They want what is best for all students. They work hard, very hard. I see them when I come in the morning, when it is dark. I say good evening to them, as I drive home in the darkness. They really care about each person on the campus. I can have had some very meaningful and professional conversations. (The problem is that I don't always have the time to have more of these great conversations.)  They make me feel at home and that I could make a contribution. 

Beyond the tangibles, there are many intangibles. If I am sick, they look after me and make sure I am doing okay. They are compassionate and I think see me as a human being first, rather than just an employee. I feel a part of the school community from the administrators, my team of teachers, other teachers and office staff and Don Jorge the custodian. He always is there every morning with a buenos dias and como estas. I see him during my cafeteria duty with another como estas as he slaps high fives with the students after they dump their lunch tray. Feels like home.

It is November. December is knocking on my door. I can say that things have slowed down for me more and I need to take a breath and drink in the beauty of my situation. I thank the good Lord for bringing me to Westwood. He knows what is best for me. For that, I am truly grateful!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Two Word Sentences-Yeppers (from Grammar Keepers)

My students are studying sentence patterns. We conjugated some verbs and reviewed nouns-common and proper. Then we moved onto to verifying sentences with the noun-subject and verb. We used Jeff Anderson's Everyday Editing lesson on simple sentences called Is or Isn't It? After that, implemented the lesson called Two Word Sentences in the bookGrammar Keepers by Gretchen Bernabei. Students then wrote their own two word sentences and practiced the dialogue that accompanied the lesson. In the dialogue, the students tried to prove that their two words were two word sentences. They had a lot of fun writing and performing these dialogues with their own writing. This was day two of the study. Yepper skipper!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Bullets and Boxes...Remixed

Bullets and Boxes...Again

By Maureen Ucles

Bullets and boxes
seems some kinda
Get ya hazmats ready!

Breathing in the erroneous
woefully wrong
bordering on the absurd
anyway you spell it
smell it

Bullets and boxes
where'd you get your
of bullets
of boxes
end of time?

Not gonna claim it
lost the check
no need
 to bother
How about
Sound familiar?

Bullets and boxes
Not even worth
my thoughts

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Write What Matters

I just finished chapter one in Write What Matters from Tom Romano. Gretchen Bernabei recommended the book at her two day staff development. She shared a wonderful recommendation for the book. It seems that Write What Maters book will cure what ails me.  I bought it this morning. I briefly read the introduction and it spoke to me very loudly. This book gets me and I get to read it everyday.

When I left the Gretchen Bernabei two day staff development, I felt calm and refreshed. There is so much to explore. There is so much to do. I long to do what I know is best for my students. Reading and Writing is a process. As such, it cannot be rushed for the sake of a test. I know that I must stand firm in the courage of my convictions. The students are doing fine, where they are. They have grown so much as readers and writers since August. They will continue to grow as readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists and social scientists. It takes time.

In the first chapter of Write What Matters, Tom Romano ended it with an assignment of 15 minutes or longer. Write about why you write, what you get out of it, what rewards hold for you. I thought about going to bed early, but I couldn't let it rest. The writing in me has to come out because if I don't get it out, I think that what bothers me will eat me alive inside.  For me, writing is my way of expression, venting, figuring out what I think, my way of being, and it is a generative and transformative process. I don't think I could go too long without it. Blogging is my way of practicing my writing with much frequency. It is empowering and it allows me to  discover who I am and what I believe. This idea of testing has bothered me and  has been weighing on my mind for some time. It has a hold of me and writing about it is a cathartic act. I can write about it and then let it go...or not.

Just as writing is life, so is teaching. Teaching and writing goes hand in hand. I love teaching  my students. I love to see the writing light shine upon them. I don't want testing to get in the way of their brilliance or stop the flow of the classroom. It inevitably does though. That is what I have always hated about standardized testing. You get into a groove teaching and this uninvited guest knocks on the door, comes in and ransacks the place. It rearranges the furniture, knocks down photos, breaks glass onto the floor, and throws the mail all over the place. I come home, metaphorically, to my place (class), and have to pick up the pieces and try to get back into the groove. When it is all over, it takes me some time to get back on track.  Hurricane Testing has subsided, but I must clean up the space again. Is there a better way? I am sure there is, but that is not my reality. I have to accept periodic testing and build a suspension bridge and get over it. Thanks the Good Lord for writing. It is my Golden Gate Bridge of acceptance and processing. Teaching and writing are inextricably linked to one another in my world. That is fine with me. My life would be such a bore without them.

Tom Romano,

This took longer than 15 minutes. Thanks for the chapter one!  Now onto chapter  two. I am so looking forward to the reading and writing exercises in this book!

Thanks Gretchen for the recommendation!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

In November

I love Cynthia Rylant's book In November.  I love it because it is well written and November happens to be one of my favorite months of the year. It reminds me of why I love November  Every year, especially in July-September, I yearn for November. I adore November.

Finally this weekend felt like November and Autumn.  After months and months of horrible, suffocating humidity, I awoke to sweater and turtle neck weather and yearned for cups of warm tea and coffee.  I drank in the cool, crisp weather. The morning took me by the hand and invited me to slow down and savor  life. The cool sunny mornings are the best. The best.

November. It is my "just right" month.  The weather changes and leaves descend to the cold unforgiving ground. Trees brace for the blusterous winter weather, feeling rather naked and exposed. In November,  the temperatures are nice and cozy.  The mornings are quite chilly and the afternoons require a light sweater or long sleeved shirts. The evenings are enveloped by darkness and the air temperature decreases by the hour.  Hot tea, coffee and hot chocolate are my preferred drinks. Soup is perfect in November. Chicken soup. Tomato soup. Potato soup. Vegetable beef soup. Any soup will do.

November is the perfect weather for taking long walks. I love to walk near my house and breathe in November. In the Summer months, you won't catch me outside. The heat gets to me and my poor, poor lungs. November's weather, however,  is great for my asthma and getting in some more steps. It is not too cold or too hot, but rather perfect.

November is the month of great football. Every year, I love to watch my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes play football.  The football season heats up in November. I lounge on my couch, flip the channel to see my Buckeyes play against that team from up North.  I am forbidden to write their name, but to help those of you who may be oblivious to this rivalry, I will mention their name this one time. The greatest rivalry in all of college football (sorry UT and  Texas A&M) is between Ohio State and Michigan (that team from up North). This game always takes place the latter part of November. I remember waiting the whole year to watch the game as a youngster. My family and I marked the date on the calendar and settled in for a real barn burner. We lived and died by the results. It is serious stuff, as bragging rights are on the line for one whole year. When I think of November, I think of The Ohio State Buckeyes and the rivalry game. Go Bucks!

I can't have November without Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving means family. Thanksgiving means lots of comfort foods and pumpkin pie. It is really the only day that I will get up super early to prepare a feast that will occur around 2 pm. I love to get up and get the bird in the oven, make real lumpy mash potatoes and use my mom's coveted recipes for stuffing, cranberry salad, and brocolli casserole. I enjoy making all of these delicacies for my family. It brings back so many great memories of Thanksgivings past spent with my family in Ohio. My mom would always have me help her grind out the cranberries and oranges with the peel in her iron hand grinder. I loved helping her prep the night before Thanksgiving. I still have memories of seeing the humongous turkey being placed in water in the kitchen sink. My brother Tim would take the decapitated and somewhat frozen bird out of the stink and chase me around the house with it. It was quite funny!

Ahh...November. There's really no other month that I love more. The weather, drinks, food, family traditions, along with football make it very special for me. I wish it could be extended to sixty days!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Diary of a Whimpy Kid Old School Lottery

My students are bonkers for Dairy of a Whimpy Kid. Yesterday I received my shipment of three books that I preordered from Scholastic. The newly released Dairy of a Whimpy Kid-Old School was a hit. Last week we held a book lottery for the first two ccpies. The selected lottery winners now get first dibs on the reading of these books. They jumped up and down when I showed them the new books. They were fortunate to read them during Ludic reading in the classroom today and also are allowed to take them home to read.  I have a long waiting list. Next Friday, the next three get to read the books. Maybe I should buy more? I am considering it.

It was so fun to see their reaction and joy! They didn't want to put the books down.

My students are such wild readers. Anytime I share my new reads, they want to immediately  borrow the new books. Then I have to start new lotteries. I got the idea of book lotteries from Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild. This is such a great way to solve a big problem: my students want to read everything!  It is a great problem to have.

IHOP Blues (No More Coffee For Me!)

IHOP Blues
(No More Coffee For Me)
By Maureen Ucles

I’ve got the IHOP blues
Running down to my shoes
Trying to hold back the tears
Rolling down my rosy cheeks

Has it been a millennium?
Or just a few years?
Maybe a few months?
Can’t remember
Since December?
Gone numb

                                                              I’ve got the IHOP blues
Running through my veins
Seems insane
Trying to fathom
My life—without
A cup of Jo
Java supreme
Mud water
Has anyone seen?

  Look  at my face
Cup of joy
Known as coffee

                                                              The pancakes don’t fluff
With the right kind of stuff
Eggs lost their yolks
Hash browns?
Yellow—no taste
Do I really need to say?
My cup of coffee
Six creams
No sugar…
Just right

                                                 My insides
No more coffee!
No more coffee!
 Poor, pitiful me…


Cool Poetry by Matt Haig from Twitter

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Expository Writing Has Gone To the Dogs! Who Let the Dogs Out?

I saw this really cute video on Face Book. Dogs dine in this funny video. It looks as if they are dining around the holiday season. I always look for silly videos to show my students. They like dogs and cats. One boy today asked me to find a funny dog video. I guess he has seen too many crazy cat videos. To honor him, I found a cute video. There is a cat cameo.

I am going to use this as a trigger to write in an expository way. First I will show the video. Then they will watch it again to try to find what they like about it. Then I will ask them their opinion about it. They will write a belief statements and discuss with a partner why they believe what they do about the partner by citing examples and evidence from the video. They will then take a quickwrite and discuss what they thought. They will read their writing to partners of 2 and 3. Each partner will read and then listen for a belief statement and reasons which could include evidence and examples from the video. They will then sign each other's paper's stating that they listened to each other's work.
We will then debrief and share out. Expository writing is everywhere! It has gone to the dogs!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Crazy Cat Videos

I created this video using video clips from Face Book. I used Snag It! to record the screen and then imported the MP4 files to Camtasia. I know my students will love seeing these crazy felines. I plan on using them to launch expository writing and why I believe that cats are crazy!

My Students are Blogging!

My students are beginning to blog! How exciting for me to see this. I read a few posts from Edublog tonight. They are trying out their own poetry, making top ten and top five lists. I love it. Their posts are not perfect, but the fact that they are doing it and putting it out there is far more important to me right now. I will work with them on the final edit. It takes time! One of my girls wrote a poem about the seasons. Now I get to be the one, of many, to comment on her post! This is crazy fun!