SOL Day 28

Back to work today. I made it through the day and walked the dogs another mile after work, so everyone is happier today. However, I’m exhausted.

Can you figure out which day I was sick? Lol.

I ate a real dinner tonight and made sure I drank lots of fluids today; both of these helped a lot. However, I’m still completely exhausted. I tried to sit down and read for a bit, but it was a lot cause.

Luckily, there’s only one day more (and now I’m singing Lee Mis in my head) until spring break. The weeks between winter and spring break are the longest weeks of the year, so I’m very excited for the bell to ring tomorrow afternoon. Woohoo!


SOL Day 27

Sick days are the worst.

I woke up at 4am and was sick as a dog. At 5:30am I called out of school and began throwing some plans together. Calling out sucks because you have to figure out plans for the day while you likely can’t even see straight. I managed to cobble something together (thank goodness for Google Classroom) and fell asleep.

I was also supposed to go to my middle school enrichment class’s end of course celebration tonight. Chalk up another win for technology: FaceTime. I popped in via FaceTime for a few minutes and promptly collapsed again after hanging up.

When I’m sick I usually keep the TV on in the background to drown out any noises outside. It’s like my own white noise machine. Today I started with the local news, then Good Morning America, next a few episodes of Friends, and finally a few hours of Law and Order. None of the shows require brainpower and none of them are too loud: perfect sick day television.

And now that my Slice is done, I’ll be passing out again.

SOL Day 26

Every March I challenge my 9th grade students to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge.  They do not have to complete 31 entries, but I encourage them to do so.  Along with helping my students get in the habit of writing each day, the challenge also helps them with time management.  They essentially choose their own grade.  A simplified version of the grading sheet is below:

A+  (100):  Superior effort.

The writer has completed at least 28 slices and up to 31. 


A (95):  Amazing effort.

The writer has completed at least 20 slices and up to 27. 
B (91): Excellent/Above average effort. (Although A and B projects possess many of the same features, the number of entries, style, originality, and level of excellence of the A project are exceptional.)

In addition to meeting the “C” level requirements, this project goes further by completing 11-19 slices during the month of March.  


C (84): C work is clear, competent, and controlled, but its style, originality, sophistication, and level of critical thinking are undistinguished. Overall, writing, depth, and sophistication of thought are average.

The writer has completed 10 entries during the month. The slices are a competent response to the assignment:  they meet, to some degree, all the assignment requirements, and demonstrates that the author has put significant time and effort into communicating his/her ideas to his/her targeted audience.   

Students who complete all 31 blog entries will receive 5 points of extra credit.

When I assign the project in February the students always groan.  They are horrified by the prospect of writing a blog entry every day and can’t imagine having anything to say.  However, they want those extra credit points, so many of them set out to do all 31 entries.

Guess what?  Most of them end up loving the assignment.  Today I reminded some of the students that they only had a few more days of entries to complete.  They groaned, but this time it was from disappointment!  They told me they will miss the entries when the month ends and they wish it was an assignment all year long.  I think they’d lose interest if they had to write everyday all year long, but it’s awfully nice to hear that they enjoyed the writing they did this month.  Most students end up loving the assignment, but I worry every February.

SOL Day 25

When I head to school tomorrow morning I will be able to say there are only 3 more wake-ups until spring break. That sounds manageable, right?


The weeks (months!) between winter break and spring break always seem never-ending.  For weeks, I’ve been making lists of things I can’t wait to do during spring break.  The list consists of things I can’t do during the school year:

  1. Read a whole bunch of books that I pick.  Not books I have to read, but books I have been dying to read.
  2. Sleep past 7am.  I’ll still get up at 5:15am to walk the dogs with Chris, but then I plan to head back to bed.
  3. Walk the dogs in the middle of the day.
  4. Eat lunches that I don’t pack myself.
  5. Go shopping!
  6. Write a whole bunch of stuff.
  7. Binge on a bunch of shows I’ve fallen behind on, like Law and Order: SVU.

Just four more days until spring break starts.

This will be me in just a few days.

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SOL Day 24

I spent most of my day at the NJCTE Spring Conference at Montclair State University.  NJCTE is the local affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English; we have a small fall conference each year, but the big conference is always in the spring.  I did not present this year, so it was nice to be able to go and learn for the day.  There were about 200 people registered and a great group of authors on the speaking schedule.

I woke up bright and early to arrive at Montclair by 9am. I ended up skipping the first session of workshops to catch up with some friends and talk about books and teaching, but I learned a ton at the second and third session.  In the second session, I had the opportunity to learn about some amazing, new-to-me contemporary poets and ways to bring them into the curriculum.  I’ve already ordered books by Ocean Vuong, Rachel McKibbens. and Clint Smith.  I left the workshop feeling inspired to integrate more poetry into my curriculum.

During the third session I was able to attend my friend Oona’s workshop.  Oona is my fellow #nerdcampNJ organizer and we are always running around at Nerdcamp or presenting at the same time, so it was great to have the opportunity to learn from her.  I walked out of her session about reading workshop in secondary school with a ton of great ideas.

The day ended with a keynote by author Jason Reynolds and he was as inspiring as he always is.  I’ve had the pleasure of learning from Jason a number of times and he always forces his audience to think and then pushes them to think even more critically about their relationship with their students.  He’s an inspiration  (and his books are pretty awesome, too).

I didn’t get home until almost 6:30pm because we had a board meeting immediately following the conference; I left my house again at 7:30 to drive to my parents for a birthday celebration.  Needless to say, I’m exhausted!  But I’m looking forward to decompressing a bit tomorrow and ordering some new poetry books!

SOL Day 23

Tonight Dublin and I participated in a read to the dogs event. We usually do this once per month, but with the holidays and winter weather we hadn’t had an event since November. It took him a few minutes to settle in, but he did some great work tonight!

Dublin loves working with kids, and kids who need him usually find him. He’s worked with kids diagnosed with autism and with kids with cerebral palsy. He loves reading with kids and will gladly sit and listen to them. Tonight he spent an hour with a young girl who was scared of dogs. Her family is hoping to get her a support dog, but they were worried about her fear of dogs. They came to read to the dogs so that she could see how nice dogs can be.

Well, I think it worked! She was immediately drawn to Dubs and went on to spend an hour with him. By the end she was hugging him and giving him treats! She read a few books to him (and made sure he looked at the pictures). He put up with being pet a little rough, and she learned how to be gentle with puppies.

Dubs has been a therapy dog for about 5-6 years now. It’s definitely my favorite thing to do with him and I highly recommend looking into therapy dog work if your dog is comfortable around strangers.