Picking Daisies

Last Thursday in the midst of tackling essay mountain, I felt my phone buzz in my pocket. I looked to see my mother in law had shared a photo of a green house nearby and a sea of their blooming Gerbera daisies.

I smiled.

I am a gardener at heart, a brown thumb by fate and flowers speak to me.

Growing up I thought celosia flowers were troll heads. I remember picking them out with my mother almost every summer. I would imagine the trolls dancing in our flower bed. When I think of celosia flowers, I think of my childhood and being living wild outside.

Peonies remind me of love. My grandma in preparation for her wedding planted peonies. As days turned into weeks, the wedding rolled around and not a single plant had bloomed. They ended up paying for peonies for their wedding and when they returned home from their honeymoon, every plant was blooming.  In honor of my grandparents I had peonies in my wedding last June.

Gerbera daises remind me of cheerfulness. Each daisy is a vibrant explosion. It is the equivalent of a warm bear hug on a bad day.

Today rolled around and I needed some cheerfulness. As the semester rushes to an end, I find myself struggling to keep pace.

I walked to my classroom after lunch and found an envelope on my desk. Any other time of the year this would be unusual. (Right now I am averaging 2-3 graduation invites a day)

I picked up the card and put it on the stack of graduation invites. In my final prep, I decided to start to map out graduation parties, and I discovered that the envelope was a thank you card.

The card was from a senior who moved here in January. If you look closely, the card has three flowers on it. Teaching isn’t easy, but little things like this make me love what I do.

This will be going in my teacher scrapbook. 🙂


Tuesday Tickle

My husband and I live in old 4 bedroom farm house. Until last week, when we did a little spring cleaning, my husband and I had been sharing one rather small closet.

I now have not one, but two closets. Each one is separated by season and organized by color.

In my organization I found a funky pair of dress pants. I remember buying them from ThredUp 2 years ago and not being a fan. 

This morning as I was gazing at my closet they spoke to me. The black and white polka dots were saying, “rock me”.

I paired the funky khaki pants with polka dots with a long housecoat like sweater.

During 4th hour I hopped into a desk to assist a student and I heard a light rip and an felt an unfamiliar draft.

In that moment my heart stopped. I quickly finished helping the student and walked to the corner and reached behind my knee length sweater to (ass)ess the damage. 

I slowly reached back and I was screaming internally. My pants were not only ripped. They were totally destroyed. 

The rip started at the top of the pants and continued to reveal 1/2 of my booty.

I have never been a bigger fan of long sweaters than I was at this moment. 

Thankfully I had lunch right after class and I was able to sneak out and change my pants.

I put on jeans. I am only supposed to wear jeans on Friday, but I deserved it.

Poking and Prying with Purpose

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose” – Zora Neale Hurston

I recently finished reading Guided Inquiry Design: A framework for inquiry in your school by Ann K. Caspari, Carol Kuhlthau, and Leslie K. Maniotes.

The book is a manual for teaching students how to learn. It changed my thinking of how I teach research papers.

I was bold this semester and decided to change what type of research paper I was teaching and the way that I was teaching research papers. As well as my dedication to complete every project I have my students do.

The research paper that I selected, after being inspired by a ICTE Writer’s Retreat, was a Multigenre reseach paper.


Writing and teaching research papers can easily be comparable to going to the dentist. It is not something you want to do, but you have to do.

The Multigenre research papers changes the narrative. The paper consists of a formal research paper and several complimentary genre pieces. The project sold me for two different reason. The first reason is that it allows students creativity as a writer. The second is that it allows students to really become experts on a topic by exploring it from a variety of facets.

I pieced together the project from a variety of materials from other English teachers and a few ideas of my own. (Special thanks to Lauren Petri for sharing her materials- and to Haley Moehlis for creating some of the material Lauren shared with me)

The first two days of this project were dedicated to the open stage. As a class we visited virtual museums, watched youtube videos, read newspapers in search of inspiration.

As we discovered, my students needed to formulate an idea for: person, place, event, conspiracy, controversy. From this list my students selected one topic that they thought had the most credible sources.

In the past I would have instructed my students to create a working outline. I would have wanted them to think about what they would want to write about and use that outline to guide their research.

This does not teach my students how to learn. It is comparable to drawing a picture vs. a paint by number. In leu of a working outline, I taught my students how to research using guided inquiry questions.

The first step is to start simple. I have been writing this paper with my students and this has been my example:

Fu Go Balloons

  1. What are Fu Go Balloons and how were they made?

This is the information that I used to do my initial research. I discovered that the Japanese made them during WWII. They used their research of wind currents to carry these bombs over the Pacific ocean.

The next stage is to use this research and now ask defining and analytical questions.

  1. What background information do I need to understand why Japan used this weapon?
  2. Where there different types of balloon bombs?
  3. What caused Japan to create these?
  4. What was done about these bombs?

The final step is to create one question that allows you to room to reflect and engage with your research.

  1. Why did Japan use balloons to send bombs to the U.S.A and what was America’s reaction?

I am impressed with the questions that my students are developing. They are thoughtful and are really shaping how the research.

My student are engaged and I am excited to see how their research will unfold.



So long #SOL17

As I wrote the date on the board this morning it was with mixed emotions. 

This challenge has really challenged me. It has changed how I blog. Before this I would blog maybe once a month.

Now I have gotten to the point where my husband reminds me to blog every day without fail. My instructional coach reads every blog and she knows what I am feeling before I know what I am feeling. I have met some amazing other bloggers like wahooteacher who never fail to give me positive feedback.

Most importantly it has kept me engaged with the writing process I teach to my students. Some days I do not have inspiration. I just don’t, but I always found something to write about. 

It has been a long month, but I am proud of myself.