Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Our Reading Journey

Well, this is a year of BIG DEALS!!!  First, I became a grandmother last week.  My grandson was born last Thursday, and I’m so in love with him it is impossible to explain.

 Next, I’m turning……………


next month!!!!!!  I’m completely done with talking about THAT!!!!

So I spent this summer thinking about the fact that I’m going to be older than everything on earth except dirt, I was going to become a granny to a precious little boy, and I was going to start another year…………..

 teaching/motivating/inspiring/tolerating EIGHTH-GRADE STUDENTS!!!!!!!

I absolutely love, love, love, love teaching.  I love teaching middle school students - what a great age (yes, I’m serious!!)
But in the past few years I’ve noticed not only changes, good and bad, in education but changes in me and my way of teaching.  I’ve strayed from my original plan, but I’m turning that around this year!!!!!!  It’s another BIG DEAL!!!!!!

If you are a teacher, you will remember the good old college days when you wrote a gazillion essays on topics such as……What makes you want to be a teacher?  Every paper I wrote about my reasons for being a teacher always included my thoughts about reading.  When I was selected as Teacher of the Year for my school and my district, I was required to write an essay about me as an educator.  Once again, I wrote about my passion for reading.  I always reflect on the fact that I spent every Sunday afternoon in my Nannie’s hammock beside the creek behind her house………reading Nancy Drew books. 

After church every Sunday, the family traveled to Virginia to visit, eat, sit around, visit, eat again, sit around, etc.  You get the picture---------just like Andy Griffith’s front porch on Sunday.  However, my favorite place was not the porch…….it was that comfy hammock under the trees by the creek.  Seriously, people, this was absolutely a beautiful place.  I would read and read and read for hours -------then go back inside for another chicken leg!!!!

This story of my Nannie’s hammock and my weekly trips with my mom to the Kingsport Public Library made it into every essay I’ve ever written about education.  It truly is what made me become a teacher………”To inspire in students the same love for reading that I had as a teenager.”

So I stormed into my first job as a teacher ready to conquer the world.  I refused to follow the norm - I did things my way.  I REQUIRED students to read novels in my classroom.  I assigned book reports.  I organized literature circles.  Other language arts teachers joined in, and we began having school-wide competitions in reading.  It was a truly beautiful THANG!!!!

Then things began to change in education, I got flustered, and before I knew it, I had changed my true passion ------the passion to get students to read.  To open a book and actually live the story.  To cry in a story.  To laugh in a story.  To be so sad because the book is finished.  To desperately NEED to get the other novels written by that author.  To find their hammock by the creek.

So I spent the summer WORKING!!!!  Yep, I’m one of those teachers.  The district requires four in-service days.  I’ve already taken six and hope for more!!!  I also worked to develop for this year’s class……………

Our Reading Journey

Middle School Reading Journey

Students are going to be required to read six books every nine weeks of various genres and complete a book project.  I’ve created 10 book projects for novels, 5 for nonfiction, and 5 for informational texts complete with grading rubrics.  Each nine weeks has a book list from which to choose novels that include the lexile levels. 

I’m taking them on a journey!!!!!  A reading journey!!!!!!

For more information, please visit my store at

And about turning 50…………I asked my precious husband for a hammock for the backyard for my birthday.  He gave it to me a month early so I could enjoy the weather as much as possible.  Reading..reading…….reading……reading!!!!!

Calling all Grandparents!

Everyone reaches an age (and their kids are of an age) when they start hearing things like…….

Being a grandparent is unbelievable
Having a grandchild is so much different than having a child
Having grandchildren is the thrill of a lifetime
You can’t imagine how wonderful it is to be a grandmother

I heard it all……I took it all in…….I smiled and said, “Oh, I can imagine it is!”…….I agreed……I concurred……I understood.

Until July 24 at 3:13 pm when I met this little man……….

Oh, my, how all of those comments and statements took on a new meaning.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my two boys FIERCLY!!!!!  They were my whole world as they were growing up, and they still are to this day even though they have left or are trying to leave my nest.  But watching your son have a son……….All I can say is


I’m now the “granny” which has a certain meaning and a distinct responsibility.  Being a parent means you have to do it all, provide it all, and have all the answers and resources.  Being a grandparent means one thing………


My dad reminded me of something that happened when Wayne, my son who has been a father for one whole week, called his granny and papaw.

Here’s an example of the job of a grandparent.  Wayne and I had a particularly “trying” day as a mother and a young child.  I have no idea what the problem was that day, but I predict it was trivial and minor on both our parts.  He was around 4 or 5 years old and already knew how to dial the phone to get in touch with granny and papaw.  On this challenging day, he took it upon his sweet little self to call my mom and state emphatically, “Granny, you need to come get me.  Mom is getting on my nerves.”

(People that know me just smiled very broadly and thought…….I can see that!!!)

The only time my father will consider breaking a law such as speed limits is when a grandson needs him, so they made the 15 minute trip to my house in about 7 minutes.  Keep in mind, I had no idea the phone call had been made.   My parents appear at the top of my stairway and before I can finish the question, “What are you doing here?”…………Here comes down the hallway my sweet little boy dragging a huge tote bag that he has packed with everything he could possible stuff in there.  It is heavy.  It is full.  He is dragging it down the hallway, past me, past my parents, and down the steps it went…..bouncing on each step…….and out the door.  He drug that bag to papaw’s truck and waited patiently to be loaded into the car seat to be whisked away by granny and papaw for some much needed time away from MOM. 

Guess what?????  Now I’m the granny!!!  I’m loving every minute of it!!! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Katie McGrath M.Ed
Copyright 2000
****No portion of this video nor a transcript of this video may be used without permission of the above.  This video is for classroom use only by purchasers of the TpT product entitled "The Raven" found in the store: 

Sunday, July 6, 2014


This summer’s trip was to Sandusky, Ohio to an amusement park called Cedar Point.  It’s located on a 364 acre peninsula on Lake Erie.  All I can say is……….SPECTACULAR.  Just look at the pictures, and you can see for yourself the beauty of the surroundings.  This place is a hidden little treasure, and I highly recommend EVERYONE venture north.  The best part is that it’s not too crowded, not too big, not so commercial (Disney L)  That leads me to the bad part…….it’s almost too well-hidden.  You just don’t take an exit off the interstate and tell the kids, “We’re Here!!!!”  Nope.  GPS is required to find this place, but OH, HOW IT IS WORTH IT. 

Cedar Point is known as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World” and boasts 17 roller coasters of the over 150 rides, shows, and attractions.  One of the greatest rides is the Top Thrill Dragster……which I have ridden (before back injury)…….and it will slam your head to the back of the seat and for 17 seconds, you are praying to live through it.  It takes you from 0mph to 120mph in less than 3 seconds!!!!!!     

James and Billy are in the picture on the front row of Top Thrill. 

The huge tower on the left of the picture is the SWINGS!!!!!!  You go to the top WHICH IS 301 FEET IN THE AIR and literally swing out over Lake Erie.  If ……..and only if…… can open your eyes, it is absolutely breathtaking.  Just look at the picture of the view in the center!!  That’s me and Jonathan in the Ferris Wheel!!!!   SO BEAUTIFUL!!!

The sections for the little ones (including a Snoopy and Charlie Brown park which is PERFECT!!!!)  are huge!!  There’s also a Water Park for a separate price, but WHO HAD TIME FOR THAT!!??!???!??  Billy and I walked the legs off of two teenagers and a six year old.  What a BLAST!!!!  Here’s the link - complete with videos to see what you are up against!!!