Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Crafting Contingency SOL Day 5

I do a lot of reading and writing in any given day. Sometimes I feel the itch to make something that doesn't require any words. I stumbled upon the idea of decoupage when I was looking for items for one of my weekly Star Wars posts last year, but it wasn't until very recently that I decided to give it a try myself.

There's something incredibly satisfying about taking apart a book or comic book to find just the right image. Never fear, I'm not a cold-blooded book killer! Some of the pages I've used for my creations come from books that are completely worn out or have water damage from students who have more book love than book savvy. Others come from extra copies of comics, or inexpensive old comics from my local comic book store.

My first letter was a big S for "Selke" - at least partly to see how it all worked. I wanted to make letters as Christmas presents, and I figured it made sense to make any mistakes on my own letter first. I selected pages from Bridge to Terabithia, The Hobbit, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and a Star Wars novelization of Episode IV. This image shows how they are arranged on my S, but they haven't been glued down or sprayed yet. The trickiest part of my arrangement was getting the precise bits from each page just where I wanted them.

UntitledNext up - letters for my nephew and niece for Christmas! My nephew loves superheroes, so picking his theme was easy. I had an assortment of characters from Justice League comics, and even some from Free Comic Book Day. I had about 20 images that I moved around and around until I got everything in just the right place.

I was particularly excited to find a way to incorporate two amazing ladies into his letter. At first, I only had a "posing" Wonder Woman image. Her passive stance and pouty face made me want to weep. As you can see, I found a much better depiction to include instead.

My niece deserves some comic joy also. Her name is Sonja, so I snagged a Li'l Sonja comic to use on her letter. The colorful bits are tissue paper from the craft store. My younger son insisted we add in the cupcake stickers. That's a little inside "joke" between him and the little bugger. My son calls her "cupcake" and kept trying to get her to say the word when we were at their house just a few months after she was born.

Lessons Learned: Overlapping colored tissue paper looks TERRIBLE. That's why the comic images are placed where they are.

My goddaughter received the next letter. She loves the X-Men, and Rogue is her favorite. I had picked up some bargain Uncanny X-Men at the comic book store, and was pleased to see one comic focused on this character. This photo is from the layout stage. I still have a lot of images from this comic that I can use for later projects.

UntitledJust this past week, I made another letter. This one is for my younger son, who is a serious Whovian. Ten is "his Doctor", and I made sure to include his absolute favorite villains. Did you know that Titan Comics currently has comic runs for the 10th, 11th, and 12th Doctors? They'll be starting up a comic for the 9th Doctor soon, too.

UntitledSince my itch to create hasn't yet abated, I acquired the rest of the wooden letters to make my last name and started my next letter on Monday. Can you recognize the books I used for this one?

My other letters are in a pile, ready for our next snow day. My scissors and Modge Podge await. Making is fun!

Come join the writing community at Two Writing Teachers. March is the official DAILY Slice of Life challenge. Someone is there Slicing (writing personal memoirs and reflections) every Tuesday. Let's Write! 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Insomnia Conspiracy SOL Day 4


I've never been a great sleeper, at least as far back as I can remember. I've tried so many things to help improve my sleep over the years. I go to bed and wake up at about the same time each day. (Yes, even on days off and snow days I don't sleep in that much). I use earplugs every night to help deaden any extra noises. I wear an eye mask frequently, especially when my husband wants to read after I've gone to bed. I ingest no caffeine after about 1 PM.

Still, there are too many nights when I toss and turn and wake up with those little 'zings' of worry. Once that tiny drizzle of adrenaline zips through my system, I know it will be at least an hour before I can settle back in to rest.
At least there is coffee!

Last night was one of those lovely nights.

2:03 AM: "I must remember to pay the mortgage in the morning." Roll around for a few minutes, then reach over and send myself an email so I don't forget.

2:08 AM: "Wait, did I remember to write that email to that parent?" Roll around again.... send myself another email.

2:10 AM: Hopelessly Devoted to You begins to play in my brain. Yeah, I don't get it either.

I know I managed to get a bit of sleep between 3:30 and 5 or so, because I woke up at 5:09 when we got the message that we have a two hour delay today. Could I fall back to sleep? Nope! That's about when Hippie Chicks began playing in my brain.

Maybe tonight will be better? At least I can console myself with the fact that my insomnia isn't nearly as bad as it could be. I DO sleep... just not incredibly well. My coffee doesn't look as lovely as the one in the picture (that's from my 2013 trip to Ireland), but at least it's yummy and warm!

Come join the writing community at Two Writing Teachers. March is the official DAILY Slice of Life challenge. Someone is there Slicing (writing personal memoirs and reflections) every Tuesday. Let's Write! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Arrow Enlightenment SOL Day 3

UntitledThe Arrow of Light

It's the highest award a Cub Scout can earn, and it was my honor to work on (along with my co-leader) putting together these arrows for the boys who have been in my den in elementary school.

A completed arrow traces the journey the scouts have taken over the course of their early years in school.

Black for the first step along the journey - the Bobcat badge. The boys learn the Cub Scout pledge and motto. They promise to always do their best. They promise to follow the wisdom of their "akela" as they continue along the path.

Orange is for the Tiger year. Orange is often associated with chaos - and I can vouch for the fact that managing a den of tigers often felt like trying to capture lightning in a jar.

Red and Aqua represent the Wolf and Bear years. Over the course of second and third grade, we expect to see the boys begin to make more of their own choices about their learning. They also get the chance to learn how to use a pocketknife during third grade. I'm pretty sure at least 10 of my gray hairs came from that little rite of passage.

The Weblos years are fourth and fifth grade. Now the boys get a lot of choices! My younger son was dead set on earning all twenty activity pins that were available, so that he could earn the Super Achiever award. There's nothing like trying to keep up with an older brother to maintain high levels of motivation! There are stripes on the arrow for the Weblos rank as well as other stripes that show how many activities each boy completed.

One final colored band - the large yellow stripe - represents the Arrow of Light. For this award, the boys have to complete certain required pins (like Outdoorsman) and visit Boy Scout Troops. Working on this award helps each boy be ready to make a decision on crossing over into a Troop of his choosing.

In less than a week, my sweet little boy will take a short walk across a bridge into the camaraderie of the Troop he has selected. One small walk for a boy... one giant leap closer to the amazing young man he will be.

Come join the writing community at Two Writing Teachers. March is the official DAILY Slice of Life challenge. Someone is there Slicing (writing personal memoirs and reflections) every Tuesday. Let's Write! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

It's Monday March 2nd What are YOU reading?

I wasn't going to be able to get a post in today, but we got a surprise day off thanks to the 1/4" of ice coating the ground around us. 

Welcome to my little corner of book heaven. Here's what I read the last two weeks. Don't forget to visit the lovely hosts of this meme - Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. There are links to a LOT of posts there!

Quick post today, since I'm also joining the March Slice of Life Challenge! 

Young Adult
For the first third of this book, I wasn't sure I was going to get into it. I mean, I totally get how teens dropped into a deadly world could fall madly in love with someone there. I'm not a COMPLETE "insta-love" denier. Still, books like that usually don't make it to the top of my recommendation pile. 
As the story progressed, though, I got more and more fascinated with the world of NIL. You are dropped in this world, and have 365 days to make it off or die. The teens created their own small society to help and support one another (that's pretty cool, no?). I was hooked by some little teasers about what this world could really be. You don't know who will make it through (well, some are obvious... but it's okay). Now I'm glad I have the second book on hand to hopefully answer some of my lingering questions. 

Middle Grade
I run a hero's journey unit every year with my fifth graders. Usually, we read The Hobbit. This year, I decided to mix it up a bit and try to build more diverse choices into our unit. Thankfully, I have many friends in my PLN who gave me ideas for books to build in. This one is based around Hindu folklore, and the book trailer hooked my students completely. I have three reading this one now, and they all want to read the rest of the series.

Picture Books
This is a cute insight into how astronauts train, but with the focus on diversity in literature I've had with my fifth graders I couldn't help but be slightly annoyed that there's only one woman in the group. Couldn't we mix it up more?
Lovely illustrations and a beautifully inspiring look at ballet. 

Comic Books (these are listed as "M" for mature - and contain definitely mature content!)

Live Long and Prosper SOL 2

For those of you who know me from Twitter - it will come as no surprise that our most recent celebrity loss hit me hard.

I often scroll through Twitter while I'm eating lunch. It helps break up the day and gives me a ton of great ideas and articles I can use with my students. On Friday of last week, I was flipping through and chuckling over the continued #WhiteAndGold and #LlamaDrama silliness when a single hashtag jumped out of the noise.


Now, I knew he was getting older. I knew he'd been rushed to the hospital for heart problems just a few days before this.

Even so, my heart dropped and my eyes filled with tears. The original Star Trek series was probably my first introduction into science fiction. My parents are huge fans, and we watched the episodes very consistently throughout my childhood. I loved to watch them explore, and I absolutely adored Spock (though, as I get older, I identify more strongly with Dr. McCoy).

The more I read through the outpouring of love and memories for this amazing man, the more choked up I got. Leonard Nimoy inspired scientists and explorers. He stood up for his coworkers. He found beauty in the world wherever he went. While sharing quotes from Star Trek, we think about the good that could be found in the human race.... even though he portrayed a half-human on the show.

Goodbye, Nimoy. Your legacy lives on in those you inspired. May we continue to explore our world and the stars and planets just beyond the horizon. May we find ways to come together as humans as we push beyond the known into the places no one has gone before.


Come join the writing community at Two Writing Teachers. March is the official DAILY Slice of Life challenge. Someone is there Slicing (writing personal memoirs and reflections) every Tuesday. Let's Write! 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Dress Dilemma

And so it begins....

UntitledI wasn't sure if I should sign up for the Slice Challenge this year. I've been pretty awful about getting my ideas onto my blog over the past (coughs) six months or so. Still, having a specific audience and a daily challenge may be just what the doctor ordered. I've done it three years running, so I'm sure that just getting my B.I.C. ("butt in chair") will help the spice flow. I have been posting a daily photo a day on Instagram and Facebook, so I'm going to try to use those daily snapshots of my life to help keep me inspired to write.

If you've been online at all in the past few days, I'm sure you've heard of the Great Dress Debate. For the record, I'm team #WhiteandGold. Go ahead, tell me that the dress is actually Black and Blue. It won't change what I see.

What really struck me about this whole silliness, though, was the way the division in perception actually united people online. Yes, we were all tweeting and Tumblring and Facebooking about how "I am right and you are wrong". Yes, we separated into teams and hunted for evidence to prove that the other side was completely mistaken.

Still, there was a sense of humor and camaraderie about it all. There were silly memes and team picking and even people writing post-apocalyptic stories about the world "after the dress". (Don't believe me? Check it out! ) The fact that it happened right after the internet was guffawing over a pair of escaped llamas made it feel like we were all coming down from a preschool birthday party where we'd eaten too much ice cream and cake.

Sometimes we need the silly. The world is an awfully serious place so much of the time.

Come join the writing community at Two Writing Teachers. March is the official DAILY Slice of Life challenge. Someone is there Slicing (writing personal memoirs and reflections) every Tuesday. Let's Write! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

It's Monday February 23rd

Welcome to my little corner of book heaven. Here's what I read the last two weeks. Don't forget to visit the lovely hosts of this meme - Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. There are links to a LOT of posts there!

Graphic Novels:

Amazing illustrations and a fabulous story of a summer of changes and tiptoeing into adulthood. I can see why this one got a Caldecott Honor (keep in mind it is for middle school and up!)

Not my favorite of the gods, so not my favorite of this series. Still, it was an interesting way to showcase many parts of the Trojan War.

Picture Books

Some amazing entries in this one - and the illustrations are all great. I wish the writing had been more consistently amazing, though. Still worth buying, especially for the Marian Anderson poem.

I'm so glad someone mentioned this title a few weeks back. I'll be adding it to the stack of books I'm asking my 5th graders to blurb for our We Need Diverse Books campaign.

Middle Grade

A lovely story about a girl with dyslexia and a caring teacher who helps her discover her strengths. I loved the older brother and the real world problems her family faces while her father is deployed.

Super silly and fun. I can't wait to get this one to my students.

A fun start to a new historical fiction series! I love Ranger and his time traveling, rescue dog ways.

Young Adult

I wanted to love this science fiction tale of revolution and alien civilizations, but it ended up only being okay. Still, I've read both books in the series so far and I plan to read the rest. I just didn't connect with the characters as much as I'd hoped.

Pop Sugar - author with my initials.
If you haven't read this series yet, you want to start now! I adore all the characters and I love the storyline with the ley lines and hidden, sleeping kings. Having an ambitious and odd tale where I still completely love the characters and enjoy all of their interactions makes this series a "must always acquire quickly" one for me.

I wrote a quick post yesterday compiling some feminist literature suggestions from my twitter pals, if you are into that kind of thing..
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