Thursday, November 30, 2017

Be Bold

In How Dare You Try to Be Great? From  @DavidGeurin Blog, David Geurin shares,

“People may not always appreciate your gift, but don't let that stop you from using it. Don't let someone else keep you from pursuing excellence.”

Many times, growing up I was told not to brag, not to be so openly confident. People don’t like those that are braggarts. This seemed to be drilled into my head so it is hard for me to distinguish bragging and feeling proud of myself.

I feel like I was a good teacher. No, let me rephrase that. I feel like I was a great teacher! And one of the reasons I was great was because of the communication and rapport I had with my student’s parents. I worked hard at it and took a lot of my own personal time to establish this relationship. It never failed me in the 30 years I worked in the public schools. So, it really stunned me when I was in meetings during those years when other teachers would glare at me during parent conferences or pull me aside later to let me know that I “made them look bad.” In fact, one teacher actually had the nerve to ask me to stop calling the parents so often because it made them look slack. I was constantly told that because I had a special education class with smaller numbers, I could do this and the regular teachers couldn’t. I’m sorry but that is their choice and not mine. I felt there were a lot of differences between us and who had the right to decide who worked “harder”? I understand that my actions might not work for them but don’t try to stop me from doing what works for me.

I didn’t let these opinions keep me from doing what I believed in my heart was the right thing to do. And I’m glad I didn’t because I believe that relationship with parents helped me continue to enjoy teaching.

When I was recognized as our state Special Education Teacher of the Year, my school did not make a big thing about it. In fact, one teacher laughed and said that I just liked the attention. Yes, I was proud of my accomplishments and why shouldn’t I deserve some attention. I felt that others tried to make me feel ashamed that my accomplishments were brought into the spotlight.

This is one reason I like to feature teachers in my blog. If a colleague notices them doing something innovative or feels like they are an outstanding teacher, I think it is important for them to be recognized. I don’t want others to feel like I did when I was recognized.

So even though others may not see or appreciate your gifts, don’t’ let anyone stop you from using it. Don’t let others keep you from doing what you know in your heart is the right thing, the best thing.

What do you do that makes you stand out or seem special? Don’t be modest or shy. Please share.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Thoughts of Gratitude

In Thanksgiving Challenge: The Gratitude Sprint from Lisa Ricard Claro – Author, Lisa Ricard Claro challenges us with this:

“The Thanksgiving challenge is a sprint of 30 seconds. List as many things as you can for which you are grateful and which are NOT connected in any way to the “core” list, the aforementioned God, family, friends, etc.”

I realize how easy it is to be grateful for things like food and water and shelter but harder to list the specifics. I don’t’ know that I sometimes feel nitpicky but why not? Why shouldn’t I be grateful for the little things too?  And I shouldn’t just be grateful for these things during Thanksgiving but for all the time.

So, here is my list:

·      After hearing that my friends are still without power for two months so far in Puerto Rico, I’m grateful for my electricity that I take for granted every day.
·      I’m thankful for the gas heat that we have because it heats up our house quickly.
·      I’m thankful for the hooded sweatshirt that I wear constantly.
·      I’m thankful for the sunroom that I sit in a lot to knit and spin yarn.
·      I’m thankful for the library where I can borrow books and even download books onto my iPad.
·      I’m thankful for the Yeti type cup that I drink from because my drinks are always cold.
·      I’m thankful for our Casita camper that we use now for camping because it is nice to sleep in a bed and have a bathroom to use.
·      I’m thankful for my knitting group that meets every week because I enjoy the laughter and the friendships.
·      I’m thankful for the dollar store glasses that I use to read with.
·      I’m thankful for the K&W cafeteria that has specials twice a week. We like to meet up with our daughter and son in law to have lunch with them there.

There are lots of things I can think of but I only gave myself 30 seconds.

I think this would be a fun activity to do with students on a regular basis. The world tends to focus on the negative too much every day and this would help students think more positively. I would have each student make a list and tell them that spelling doesn’t count (this is a big deal for many of them). Then have them share a couple of things with a partner and then with the whole class.

What can you come up with in 30 seconds? Please share.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Story Shares

Here is a guest post from Lori Schafer. 

Lori Schafer is the author of the award-winning memoir On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years after It Happened and a volunteer author for Story Shares. Her young adult book Brother No More is available in both eBook and paperback; you can discover other titles on her website at

Story Shares – Bringing “Relevant Reads” to Teens and Young Adults Who Struggle with Reading

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as many as ninety million American adults read at a basic or below basic level. Unacceptable numbers of high school students do not read proficiently, with seventy percent of high school students needing some form of reading remediation, and, even worse, several studies have shown that rates of reading proficiency among young people have been declining.

Addressing the problem of literacy in the teen and young adult demographic poses unique challenges for educators, parents, and young adult readers, because books that are written for children who are learning to read hold little interest for teens and young adults. The themes, subjects, and stories that appeal to young children are inappropriate for more mature readers, who share the same tastes and interests as their more literate peers, but lack the skills to enjoy the reading materials that are available to a typical young adult audience. This inevitably leads to boredom and even more frustration with reading, problems which are further compounded as teens grow older.

Story Shares ( seeks to address these issues through its growing library of “Relevant Reads” – titles that are “hard to put down but easy to read.” These books – contributed entirely by volunteer authors – explore characters and conflicts that are compelling to teens and young adults, but at a difficulty level that is more appropriate to these developing readers.

For example, writers are encouraged to craft short sentences, chapters and paragraphs, making the reading experience less overwhelming. They are instructed to utilize more common words and repetitive vocabulary to promote comprehension, and to provide context clues to help readers deduce the meaning of unfamiliar words. Above all, they are asked to create stories that are relatable and culturally relevant for teens and young adults.

Volunteer author Lori Schafer’s Brother No More offers a good example. “An inner-city girl dies… and her big brother is reborn,” reads the blurb. Here is the first chapter:

Teen readers respond well to these kinds of stories. As one reviewer writes in regards to Brother No More, "Damn...that was....there are literally no words to describe it but wow."

Not only do Story Shares stories fill a gaping hole in the market of educational materials available to emerging young adult readers, but they work with print and digital technology in a way that makes them easily accessible to teens. Books are available both as paperbacks and as free eBooks that take advantage of modern interactive website design. Stories come in a variety of genres, including horror/mystery, romance, fantasy & scifi, historical fiction, and nonfiction, and there’s even a collection of books “For Teens, By Teens” contributed by those who want to hone their skills at writing!

Story Shares always welcomes new writers as well as new readers; writers interested in contributing their own Story Shares stories are encouraged to consult the writer’s guidelines. Anyone can help to promote the program by sharing this post on social media and by following Story Shares on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Linked In.

Story Shares is a qualified 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization and welcomes tax-deductible contributions to support its efforts. All proceeds from its paperback book sales go directly towards crowd-sourcing new content for the Story Shares library and identifying readers in need of new tools for improving their literacy. Books in the paperback collection are being offered at the discounted price of $9.99 through the end of 2017 and may be purchased online through Bulk discounts are also available with purchases of 15 books or more; parents, readers and educators interested in bulk paperback purchases may contact for more information.

Books that are compelling, approachable, and relatable… these are the qualities that promote a love of reading in readers of all ages. Story Shares seeks to ensure that the next generation of young adult readers learns to read proficiently for the best reason of all – because there is no better way to spend an afternoon or an evening than with a good story.