Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Resolution # 1

James has reached the age where he will absolutely refuse to watch “girl” movies with me.  He will run, hide, fake sleep, and downright say “NO” to his precious mama.  Billy, however, owes me about 2,475 movies because I endured his favorite movie, Mars Attacks.    He promised I would roll on the floor laughing.  He swore it was the funniest movie ever made.  He guaranteed tears would roll from my eyes from laughter.  He assured me this movie would forever be in my top five if I would just watch it.  So, I did. 

Cue the crickets chirping

Hands down, the worst movie ever made.  Now, I laugh at everything.  Teachers on the other side of the building make comments about hearing me laugh.  I giggle at my own crummy jokes, for crying out loud!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  However, this movie didn’t even warrant a snigger, snicker, titter, chuckle, laugh, chortle, twitter, or cackle. 

Don’t you just love a thesaurus?

His punishment was fierce and swift.  He was forced to watch The Notebook.

(I know - shocked that he hadn’t seen it yet, right?????)

He was also “allowed” to take me to see The Fault in Our Stars despite my RULE about never, ever, ever, ever, watching a movie until I read the book FIRST!!  Here I blame Jacki and Sithney.  She was taking Sithney to see it, asked how I liked the book, wondered if I thought any scenes might be too risqué, acted mortified that I HADN’T READ IT YET……….so, to save face, I pulled the poor husband to the theater.

I admit…… was a great story.  Of course, I bawled. 

At this time I will choose to not say if Billy cried or not.  I will never let the public know what a blubberer you are, sweetie!!!  At least there were only two other males in the theater!!!

It was a GREAT MOVIE!   The cast did a great job.  I was moved.  I was inspired.  I simply loved it. 


Dang, what a difference!!  I know, I know.  All books are better than the movie version.

Well, I won’t say ALL, but I don’t want to start a fight about just how great Gregory Peck portrayed Atticus Finch!!!!!!

The book was absolutely a GAZILLION times better than the movie.  Therefore, I am now declaring this one of my New Year’s Day, 2015 resolutions!!!


Unless, it is date night.  

And he’s found a movie worse than Mars Attacks.  

Friday, December 26, 2014

Procrastination or Celebration?

When is it time to take the Christmas tree and decorations down?  Is there a direct connection to when you take it down to when you choose to put it up? Are you really STILL celebrating the birth or are you procrastinating?   Hmmmmmmmmm.  Let’s ponder that. 

My mother could squeeze a buffalo nickel until he screamed for mercy.  For every dollar my dad made, my mom saved $1.25.  A lot of her talent for saving money had to do with recycling and reusing EVERYTHING.  

Here’s an example.

Every DECEMBER……(note - it wasn’t until DECEMBER!!!!) we would decorate the tree.  We brought out the boxes of decorations wrapped carefully in newspaper.  Breakable ornaments went to the top of the tree - thanks to some silly cats in the house.  Homemade ornaments in the middle and the bottom.  Garland that had been on sale in 1972 at Hills Department Store went on the tree despite the lack of shine.  Then came out the brown paper bag. The paper bag was in itself an antique.  You know when you’ve rolled and unrolled and filled and unfilled a paper bag until it is soft and tender and simply “used?”  That’s the bag I’m talking about.  There are no holes in it.  It still works.  Why get rid of it?   

So here comes the flat bag out of the box of ornaments and tinsel.  The bag is opened to reveal……….the icicles.  The icicles that were in the markdown aisle also at Hills Department Store at the after Christmas sale.  I’m guessing maybe they cost $0.10.   They are glopped together, crinkled like crazy, and flat as a pancake, but here they go on the tree.  My sister and I tried our best to separate them, spread them out, and made that tree the best-looking tree possible.  And guess what?  It was.  There’s nothing like Christmas as a kid. 

So back to my question.  When do you put up the decorations, and when do you take them down?  Here are my thoughts.  I take a lot after my mother.  A lot.  I mean a lot.  However, I buy new icicles every year.  I throw caution to the wind and purchase a new pack.  I love throwing them on the tree.  You can’t place icicles.  They have to be tossed with precision.  You can’t have too many in your hand, and you can’t have too few.  You need just the right amount to toss so that they float down in just the right place.  You know it’s the right place when you finish the decorations, sit down on the couch with your cup of coffee, recline to admire your work, and wait for the heat pump to kick on.  If the tree icicles are in the right spot, the gentle breeze of the heat pump will blow them across the lights.  The reflections on the breakable ornaments, the homemade ornaments, and the antique childhood ornaments will bring tears.  The icicles are important.  They are crucial to the tree…….(so is the heat pump.)  However, this feeling of reminiscing and reflection simply doesn’t happen until AFTER Thanksgiving.

 I don’t like mixing holidays!!!!  Thanksgiving is a time for turkey, stuffing, pumpkins, pilgrims, cornucopias, and football.  Then comes the MEGA-SHOPPING day (which has now been ruined thanks to retailers opening on Thanksgiving Day which is a TOTAL SIN!!!!!)  on Black Friday.  One stop you have to make is Target to stroll through the Christmas decorations………..begin to get the feeling………begin to feel the desire to decorate……..begin to wistfully crave putting up the Christmas tree when you get home.  But first, you must purchase the new pack of icicles.  If Black Friday shopping has not simply KILLED YOU, then I recommend stopping by Kentucky Fried Chicken for the big bucket of Original Recipe with slaw, mashed potatoes, and gravy.  Throw it on the table and tell everyone how lucky they are to have you and then enlist every able body to haul up those totes of decorations and 


Yep, that’s right.  The day after Thanksgiving is tree-decorating day!!

Now, when to take it down.  Some people say you MUST leave it up until New Year’s Day.  Here’s my thought about that subject.  Is it truly because you are celebrating the birth of Jesus all the way up to January or is it simply because you can’t bear the thought of taking that mess to the basement?  It is procrastination or continuing the celebration? 

Here’s my guideline.  When the Alpha-male, beastly, gigantic, scary beast of a PIT-BULL named Boscoe seems to have had his fill of icicles……..when he looks at you with the dumb look that he is known WORLD-WIDE for………when he has icicles hanging out of his mouth………

Please look away from the following sentence if you have a weak stomach

- When he has icicles hanging from his butt due to mass consumption……… then it’s time to take the tree down.  Let’s be honest.  After the presents are gone, the trashcan is spilling over, and the wonder and excitement have passed…………everybody goes back to work……life goes back to normal………the decorations need to be packed……and the used icicles need to be thrown away.

And Boscoe’s stomach will begin to get back to normal.

But the outside lights are the husband’s job and might just have to wait till New Year’s Day…….or February 4.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I Got My Hair Done at the Newspaper Office!

I haven’t blogged in a long time…….for a decent reason.  I have six flash drives, and three of them are full.  Yes, I back them up………occasionally.  Turns out that “occasionally” was three months ago.  I have a favorite flashdrive.  It’s my fave because it’s 

Tennessee arnge!!!!!! 

For you Yanks, that’s “orange” in proper Southern drawl!

Guess what?  It crashed.  We are talking the red, flashing light of death.  So……..for a week or so, I’ve felt hopeless, helpless, and downright upset.   But I’ve worked hard, ranted, gave it my best, cussed, and finally settled down enough and realized I’m going to be BUSY over Christmas break trying to redo some stuff.  Anyway…….on to my hair appointment

As I said earlier on Facebook, I’m now a food blogger for the Kingsport Times News - OMG!!!!  I’m so excited and scared and worried and thrilled and just tickled pink!!!!  I was scheduled this afternoon to go to the Times News office and let Matthew take my picture.  Lipstick was on.  OF COURSE I WAS WEARING BLACK 

 “It makes you look thinner!”

 Now, let’s talk about the hair……..Just to be clear, I had this hair at conception.  I came out with a head full of curls……. I still have a head full of curls!!!!   This is a current picture of me.  

It is curly.  Very curly.  Which worked in the 80s but not so much now.  Yeah, I’ve ironed it, straightened it, put chemicals on it that should have made it fall out, curled it on rollers, slept in rollers, and prayed to the hair gods that I would one day wake up and be a gorgeous blonde with straight hair and bangs.  However, I am and always will be ………A Big Haired Child of the 1980s. 

So I walk in for the picture and asked him to use the camera lens that knocks 30 years and 100 pounds off.  He was a good sport about a comment he’s probably heard no less than a gazillion times.  Then he takes the test shot.  One curl out of whack.  He moves it.  He pushes it down.  It springs back up.  Katina comes over and helps push it down.  Two more spring up.  They tuck.  They twirl. They twist it.  Then he takes two shots.  Oh, my…….it looked bad.  So I fluff.  He fluffs.  She fluffs.  We all fluff.  We arrange and rearrange this mess of hair o’mine until we get a decent shot.  I’m more worried about how many chins were peeking out of the collar..but, it’s done.  Now onward and upward……..Coming soon to a Wednesday newspaper near you!!!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Have you jumped on the foldable bandwagon yet?  I tied myself to its backboard last year……..and got drug to the halfway point.  In other words, I learned a lot of what I needed to change for THIS YEAR~

Now, to this year.  I’m again learning what I need to change for next year, but it has been SOOOOOOOO much more successful this year.  One of the reasons is because I’m actually watching my students USING and REUSING and REUSING it.  They know they can……


on any work I give them (other than district tests) by using their NOTEBOOK. 

So, here’s the most important part.  When we are reading a brand spankin’ new informational text and learning all new stuff about this text, I always throw in a question from their notebook from THE FIRST WEEK OR TWO OF SCHOOL.  I’m not going to review it.  I’m not going to reteach it - I did that already, geez!!!!  Nope.  I’m telling them to turn to that Table of Contents, find it, relearn it, reread it, grasp it again, and give it back to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So in honor of my thankfulness during Thanksgiving weekend, I’m offering my current foldable for literary terms as a freebie.  It includes flashback, foreshadowing, irony, symbolism, mood, and tone.  Click here to get your free download. 

  Have a great year!!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Complaining Parents and Upset Students......All In A Day's Work!!!

Every teacher knows the feeling.

When that email pops up from a parent…….no subject line…….no reason in your mind for the contact!!!!!!

You check the calendar.  Nothing coming up soon to warrant communication.  No payments due.  No picture day in the horizon. 

Check the gradebook.  Grades are good..up-to-date..

No bad behavior.  No negativity floating around like a bad aura.

THEN WHY ARE THEY EMAILING ME?????????   What is wrong?
What have I done?
What have I NOT done?
What have I said?

Every teacher KNOWS this feeling!!  There is NO WAY there is anything good coming from opening that email!!!!

You put it off for that Loooonnnnngggg  22 seconds, but that’s as long as you can wait………..

And then you open it.  You read it once……twice..three times.

Your smile begins at the corners of your mouth -------you know the smile------the one that only Jim Carrey makes------no teeth but the mouth muscles are performing acrobatics like Mary Lou Retton.

You are beaming.  You are blushing.  You are preparing your speech and making a mental note to thank the Academy…….

You…………(ME!!!!)  have received an email to compliment you!!!!  Thanking you for getting their child to READ so much!!! 

But wait……….the day gets better. 


It’s the end of the day.   The very, very end.  A student comes up and hands you a well-worn, folded piece of notebook paper.  It’s been through a lot. 

They hand it to you and inform you that you CANNOT read it till they leave.  Pleading eyes.  Please don’t read it in front of me.

Ok, teachers, back to the opening of this particular blog…….

“Every teacher knows the feeling.”

You are holding one of the following:

1.  Well-worded hate mail complete with advanced vocabulary and superlative adjectives.

2.  Confessional meant for their clergy  teacher.

3.  The beginning of tomorrow’s conversation with the student about the confusion of the opposite sex and how they just don’t understand them!!!

4.  Other.  (Read the word “other” with a negative tone.)

So…….here I go.  Unfold it.  Realize it is TWO PAGES!!!! which means SEVERE ALERT!!!.  It’s even STAPLED for goodness sakes!!!!

We shall repeat the above steps. 

And then you open it.  You read it once……twice..three times.

Your smile begins at the corners of your mouth -------you know the smile------the one that only Jim Carrey makes------no teeth but the mouth muscles are performing acrobatics like Mary Lou Retton.

You are beaming.  You are blushing.  You are preparing your speech and making a mental note to thank the Academy…….

Ladies and gentleman……..I received a two-page letter from a student CITING EVIDENCE of how happy they are that I’m getting them to READ.

 On the same day as the email from a parent saying basically the same thing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Table Tournaments Organization

So I think I’ve got the tables organized!!!!  After nine weeks!!!!

Ha Ha

The black tub contains the two interactive notebooks - turned opposite ways for the four classes - quick, easy access!!!!!!


The text and questions for the table tournaments are kept in the hanging folder

Held firmly in place with University of Tennessee Duct Tape!!!

And One Cubby for each seat to keep your eyes on your own paper!!!

Think this is GREAT………..till I get a better idea!!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Table Tournaments

I just have to say - I LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!!!!!

  I discussed the article with my 15 year old son (10th grade) and he said he TOTALLY agrees with what this teacher did!!!  “Just walk around most classrooms and see how boring it is, mom,” he said.  I hate to think my classes are boring!!!!  I will stand on MY HEAD to keep them from being boring!!!  However, I decided to come up with a plan to go along with this quote from the article: 

If I could go back and change my classes now, I would immediately:
•Offer brief, blitzkrieg-like mini-lessons with engaging, assessment-for-learning-type activities following directly on their heels (e.g. a ten-minute lecture on Whitman’s life and poetry, followed by small-group work in which teams scour new poems of his for the very themes and notions expressed in the lecture, and then share out or perform some of them to the whole group while everyone takes notes on the findings.)

This is what I decided to do.  FYI -  I already use (AND LOVE) an interactive notebook.  My students know after just a few weeks just how valuable it is!!!!!  So I decided to begin the “blitzkrieg-like mini-lessons” in their INB and then have what I’m calling……

Table Tournaments

My students sit at tables with between two and four students per table.  They have assigned seats which were chosen based on test scores from last year’s formative assessment.  I have four classes per day in which I teach the same lessons.  Here’s the Table Tournament procedure:

1.  Teach the “blitzkrieg-like mini-lessons” and allow students to place the foldable in their INB. 
2.  Read aloud the text for the day.  It can be anything - nonfiction, informational science or social studies text, short story, poem, table/graph - anything - but it needs to contain a reference in some way to the mini-lesson for that day.
3.  Have your first class staple 3 pieces of notebook paper together and label each page Question 1, Question 2, Question 3..........Question 6.
4.  Have your first class divide each paper into four segments (or however many classes you have.)
5.  Display a question on the promethean board and give each table a certain amount of minutes to discuss and agree on the correct answer to the question.  They may use each other’s brains and their INB to determine the correct answer - but not me.  I’ve done my part (of course, I answer questions within reason.) Write the answer in their class period’s segment of the paper.
6.  When your next class comes in, require them to answer the same question on the same sheet of paper - only you force them to read the previous class’s answer before they can write their own.  They may totally think they are wrong,  or they may now have guidance on how they will answer their own. 
7.  Continue to the end of the day until all four segments are filled.

SUPPLIES NEEDED:  A copy of the text for each student.  Notebook paper.  INB. 


1.  Reread the text to students and then have them read it aloud to each other.  Have them review ALL answers to the questions from the day before.  They are responsible to make sure the entire table understands the different answers and cite proof for the correct one (in their opinion)

2.  I rotate the room during the discussion  and stop at each table requiring them to share one answer they KNOW is correct and how they know it.

3.  Following this discussion, give a short multiple choice quiz with only 5-10 questions - make it easy on you!!!

Average ALL SCORES TOGETHER for that table for the entire day and post a weekly spreadsheet declaring the table winner for that text.  At the end of the nine weeks - you have a TABLE TOURNAMENT WINNER!!!!!

Here’s what I consider the benefits -
1.  ALL students have buy-in because they want to score high so their table will win.

You can do this once a week or daily - your choice.  All my questions have reference material in their INB for THEM to research and find the answer.  IT IS A SOURCE OF CONSTANT REVIEW.   If you taught commas during week one - then ask a question - "Why is the comma in line three?" and have them CITE THEIR PROOF FROM THEIR INB!!!!!

Essential question for the day - taught and learned.  Done!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Liebster Award!!!!

Well, I just had a big surprise written on my blog!!  I knew my husband read my blogs.  I knew of a few friends who read my blogs.  I knew of a few followers that claimed to follow me.  However, even if I tied all this together, I never actually thought people were really READING my words.  Then I get a message on my blog that I had been nominated for a Liebster Award.  The cynic in me demanded that I google the award to see if I was falling into some kind of trap, and SURPRISE!!!!!!  It was real!!  Thank you, Karen, at for nominating me!!!!!!

The Liebster Award is an award for up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.  It feels wonderful to be recognized and it is a great way to meet other bloggers. Thank you for the recognition and I have a few questions below that I answered about myself. 

Why and how long ago did you start blogging?

I started blogging on April 19, 2014.  In fact, I’m going to cut and paste my first blog which actually answers the question - WHY DID I START BLOGGING?

Why a blog?  Hmmmmmm.  Could it be because Im a language arts teacher and ALL (repeat.ALL) language arts teachers fancy themselves as writers?  We are teachers of writing; we all love to read, so naturally……..we all feel we have a book just waiting to burst out of us.  Could it be because it is cool, hip, and trendy to say, I wrote about it on my blog!” or hear someone say, “Did you see that picture of that meatloaf on Angie’s blog????” and secretly get a thrill knowing somebody other than my husband is reading it?  Could it be because I want to be a host of a Linky Party because all the cool people on TpT are doing it? Could it be because I love-love-love-love the movie Julie and Julia (and who doesn’t love Julie Powell as she successfully cooks her way through Julia’s cookbook and BLOGS about it the whole way with the incredible support of her husband!!!) 

Here’s the answer.  I have no idea.  After writing all the above, I feel like they are all the exact reason Im now blogging.  I want to write.  I want the world to love Rees meatloaf recipe as much as I do.  I want to host a Linky Party to help any and all TpT sellers.  And I want to be Julie Powell………..complete with the ups and downs of successful blogging-cooking with truckloads of butter-sewing up the belly of a duck-making bruschetta that makes you drool-feeling a sense of accomplishment, etc!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So here I am……with my blog and Facebook page entitled with the appropriate amount of alliteration - Fun, Food, and Figurative Language.

What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why?

Love.  I hope that’s not too cheesy for you, but it is the truth.  I absolutely love teaching (when the door is shut and it’s just me and the kids.)  I love to have fun.  And Lord knows, I sure love food!!!!!

 Is there something you learned late in your blog journey you wished you knew before?

I wish I knew how to design a blog.  I would love to learn how and offer that service to other teachers.  I know one day I will take on that challenge and begin designing.  Until then, I will stick to designing products for my TpT store. 

What is your favorite past time other than blogging?

Reading.  Reading.  Reading.  Reading. 
Spending time with my sweet husband, my family, and my new grandbaby. 
And did I mention READING??????

How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog?

I’m having a particularly stressful year at school, so I’m only getting to spend maybe an hour or two a week or biweekly.  I wish I had more time for EVERYTHING!!!!!

 What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most?

I particularly enjoy reading blogs from middle school language arts teachers.  It feels good to hear that others are going through the same battles I go through.  I love reading new ideas, new strategies, and new concepts that have been tried.  I also love reading FOOD blogs - Yummy!!!!  Constantly on the prowl for the best recipes!!!!!

Where does your blog inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from my students.  If I have a moment that is one of those profound “teaching moments,” I want to share, share, share!!!!!  I love being able to brag about my students!!!!!

Which post that you've written are you most proud of?

I love my blogs about my Common Core Challenge, the Bazinga game we play, and all of the recipes I’ve posted (even though the pictures are terrible.)  But my favorite blog has to be from April, 2014 - “My Big ‘As’”

Is there any post you have been planning to do, 
but have postponing it for a while now?

It’s not that I’m postponing it.  It’s just a lack of time.  I’ve got so many posts going through my head, talking to all the voices in there, waiting to be released.  One day soon!!!!!!

What is your favorite aspect of blogging?

I like being able to link up with other bloggers - particularly teachers with great ideas!!!!

Which recipe, project, or idea on my blog would 
you be most likely to try yourself?

I want to try EVERY SINGLE RECIPE on The Pioneer Woman’s blog!!!!!!!

Here are my 5 nominations. Hope all of you enjoyed what I had to say and I look forward to reading your blogs.

My nominations are:

1.  Courtney from Blogs Fit for a Queen

2.  Gina at Perfetto Writing Room

3.  Jen at Teaching Teens in the 21st

4.  Sherri at Literary Sherri

5.  Susan at Middle School OCD

(Hopefully, I have only nominated those who qualify!) 

To those who have been nominated, here are the "official" rules for accepting:

1. In your post, link back to the blogger who nominated you as a thank you and "shout out." (Follow their blog if you haven't already!)  

2. Answer the 11 questions given to you (the ones I answered above).

3. Nominate 5-11 blogs of your choice that each have less than 200 followers. Provide them with 11 questions to answer or have them answer the questions above.

4. Let your nominees know that they've been nominated and provide them with a link to your post so that they can accept.

5. Send your nominator a link to your post so that s/he can learn more about you as well! (You can just put your post link in the comments below!)

Have Fun!

The Official Rules!!!
1. thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
3. answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
6. create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
7. list these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)