A Day in My “New Normal”

I know that we have all had to adjust, or are still adjusting, to a new normal routine. Most of the world is changing with isolation, quarantines, and distance learning right now and where I live is no exception. While I am not someone who habitually goes out very often, several of my daily habits have changed significantly.

Some people may be asking themselves how much could have really changed in my life if I don’t usually go out and about. Well…I am a teacher. I no longer driver 30 minutes every morning in order to spend my day teaching reading, writing, and music to my tiny, tiny classes in my tiny, rural school. I don’t get to see my babies in person. I don’t get to finish the school year with my 8th graders, who will no longer be in my classes after May. I no longer spend my hour roundtrip listening to audio books with my 7 year old.

I now create videos and forms for my reading and writing kids on an online classroom. I was told that I did not have to create content for music students, just send links to videos. I do, however, have some videos of me reading music based picture books to my littles. We had to cancel our spring concert and we are all sad about it.

Instead of waking up at 6 am and rushing myself and the 7 yr old to get dressed, ready, and on the road, we wake up slowly on our own. I get extra baby snuggles instead of handing the 7 month old to her grandmother for daycare. That makes the classwork very interesting, by the way.

While people are helping their children with distance crisis learning (this is not technically homeschooling) I am creating content for my students…and also helping my 2nd grader do her distance learning…and also taking care of most of the cooking, cleaning, yard work, laundry, cleaning…my father is still mostly unable to do anything for himself and my mother mostly tries to lock herself in her room for alone time whenever possible (helping Dad and her online job takes a lot of time and energy). 3 adults, 2 kids, 4 animals, 5 very different classes to create and teach long distance and trying to watch tv/movies, read, write, or breath on my own. I leave the house about once a week. Most of my adult interaction came from my co-workers/school family so I don’t get ‘in person’ chats much anymore. Thank God for my snapchat, messenger, email buddies!

I miss my students. I miss taking my daughters out to places (we went on a walk last week but between weather and virus, we keep home). I miss being able to send someone else on errands because, right now, I am the only person leaving the house to go shopping or pay bills or any of the other myriad of things that need done.

That is how my days are different. How about you? Have your days changed significantly?

The End

I put in my resignation Monday morning. Not because I wanted to leave, but it happened anyway. I commute over 2 hours a day (round trip) at this point and my daughter deserves more play time with less car sitting time. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway, but it’s little comfort when I look at my other kids. The 76 I’ll be shepherding off to the Middle School in 12 days…and the 200 who keep telling me that it’s 3 months or 3 years until they’ll be publishing a book in my class. Do you know how difficult it is to look at those sweet faces and tell them that I won’t be there for them?

I know that the good Lord is preparing me for something amazing and that this step needed to be taken…but HE never promised that it wouldn’t hurt or that I wouldn’t feel guilty for it.

Oh well, you better get your fill of my classroom related posts over the next couple of weeks because May 20th officially completes my first year of experience being the teacher on record…and I officially become unemployed on the 21st! Don’t worry, I’ll try to squeeze in one or two more classroom centric posts for you, I know how much you depend on reading them 😉

May your week’s end be as great as a weekend!


Highland Park Presents is FREE from RIGHT NOW until Midnight Friday night.

This book is a compilation of short stories written by my Fifth Graders in Oklahoma and I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be able to show them that their book is traveling across the world.

I cannot promise perfect literature, but I can promise interesting and surprising stories that were created by hard working and talented 10-13 yr olds.

Give it a look and make a Fifth Grader’s day!

Live Like the 80s…the 1880s

*disclaimer* I wrote this to show as an example to the students on Friday. They are writing a practice narrative essay about having a ‘no screen’ (or modern tech free) day.

“Why is it,” Jedidiah mused, “that these people get such a kick out of visiting our little place?”

Thunder, his grey streaked stallion, just snorted and shook his head impatiently as the two stood at the roadside, waiting on yet another giant sport utility vehicle to pass through the gate. The humming of their motors were some of the only mechanical sounds emanating from the surrounding acreage and soon, even those were silenced. People came from miles around to spend a day in the country and learn what they termed ‘the old ways.’

Signal interrupters placed strategically throughout the farm allowed for no reception on cell phones, even ‘myfi’ wouldn’t work for their computers and smartphones! No television sets adorned the living room tables or the guest room wardrobes. There weren’t even modern radios! Instead of mp3 players or a boom box, the radios provided were from the early part of the 20th century, and not many AM stations play Lady GaGa or Taylor Swift.

Chuckling at the city kids who were hanging out of SUV windows, Jed waved his hat and smiled cordially. “City Folk,” he mumbled to himself, “Don’t even know a horse when they see one!”

“Time to get to work Jed,” Karl laughed, swinging through the gate on a buggy, “Let’s show these folks what a day looks like when you aren’t staring down at a screen all day long!”

Thankful Thursday

This should be Writing Wednesday but I forgot my computer yesterday so here we are, yet another week with a wonky schedule and no discernible organization. *Sigh* welcome to my life.

So here we are, a chilly Thursday in November wherein I should be writing feverishly. Instead, I am kind of sort of writing during the ten minute journaling sprints my students do in each class each day (5 days of 4 5-10 minute journaling times a day..but my students are not independent enough to allow me to just WRITE). My two stories are coming together nicely, which is pretty awesome since there are details in the second that I haven’t found out yet because of the first. *Another Sigh*

And reading, did I mention reading yet? No, well here it is. Our school principal has challenged the elementary as a whole to read a combined 45,000,000 pages. If we reach that goal by December 18th, she will kiss a pig. We are all excited about this prospect! To further their chances of seeing this happen, we are about to start reading in class again. I am planning on reading aloud Tim Tingle’s “How I Became a Ghost.” If you haven’t read any of his stuff…DO IT! He is an amazing author and wonderful man…did I mention that its National Native American Month and he writes about Choctaw Folk Tales? Yeah Buddy!

That’s my little slice of the pie for the moment…tell me about yours! I look forward to hearing about NaNo word counts, plot bunnies, new reading experiences, and the random ice cream headaches.

Have A Blessed and WARM day!

A History Lesson

“After my family left Faronia,” Professor Al began, “And before our banishment had ended, there was a group of brave and powerful creatures who sought to find where we had gone. In order to do so, the created the Dria Ot Wisdome A’ Scrib. When translated directly from the ancient language, this means Grove of Wisdom and Scribes…or the circle of trees built by the powerful and educated seekers.”

“And what did this grove do?” A sarcastic student quipped, “transport them to you in the supposed human world you speak of so often?”

“No,” Aliphonsore huffed at the young student who’s recent growth spurt had left him much larger than the fairy dragon instructor. “I never saw them. But neither did anyone else. They went in to their special grove and did not come back out.”

“Did they die?” A fairy girl in the front row leaned forward excitedly, her eyes glowing at the thought of intrigue. “Or did they go somewhere no one else knows about?”

“Well let’s put it this way,” A deep and laughing voice intoned from the doorway, “Their bodies were not in the grove afterwards. So who knows what happened to them!?”

“Headmaster!” Aliphonsore flew over to bow and wink at his former king and now school headmaster, Ferdinand.

“Hello Professor,” Ferdinand inclined his head and surveyed the classroom full of suddenly attentive young learners. “I trust everything is going well today?”

“Yes sir!” Al’s voice squeaked.

“Great, I have some visitors for you then!” Ferdinand turned and motioned through the stone doorway of the classroom, “Ladies, come on in! I think you’ll find today’s lesson an interesting one.”

And there they were, walking in the Faronia Inclusive School’s classroom number 7, the humans in whom his students had almost completely refused to believe in.

“Where should we sit, Professor?” Jason asked with a wink as he took in the old-fashioned stone room and large tables, “We brought paper and pens so we can take notes like good students.”

“I think you already know the answers to this one!” Al laughed, the twinkle returning to his eyes as he gazed happily at his friends. “Just pick a spot anywhere!”

“Now then class, as you’ve probably already guessed by their lack of wings, these are my human family members. Introductions can come later though because as you all know, this is a history of Faronia’s Secret War class and we are learning today about what?”

“The Grove of Wives!” A zealous student called, trying to look cool in front of the foreign crowd.

“Close!” Al pointed a supportive paw at the student in question before motioning for more answers, “Who has the full name for me? Come on!”

“The Grove of Wisdom and Scribes, or Dria Ot Wisdome A’ Scrib.” Jane finally answered when it became painfully apparent that no one else would. “Where 5 wise men disappeared forever, and where Lavinia the ageless still stands guard over magical trees and the knowledge of the worlds.”

“And you guys thought I was making it all up to keep you bored in class,” Al wiggled his eyelids and wrinkled his snout at the students. “Lavinia, the beautiful and gentle Guardian of the Grove is a wise and ageless dragon, kept alive by magic bestowed upon her by the wise men and the grove itself so that she can protect the secrets and keep seekers safe from harm.”

“How do you know this?” A small voice piped up from the back, “You’re just a teacher.”

“Just a…” Al took a deep breath, “I am a teacher now so that what we learned on many an adventure can be passed along to you lot, and those who come after. And I’ll have you know that we’ll be having tea with Lavinia this coming Tuesday evening. Just a teacher…” Aliphonsore continued to mutter and growl, the smoke of his frustration becoming evident through his nostrils and even his ears.

“I believe we should all learn two valuable lessons from today,” Anna jumped up and faced the diverse crowd, knowing that no matter where they are from middle school students are all incredibly similar. “Number One is that Professor Al is teaching you valuable lessons on history and life. Number Two is that no one is ‘just a teacher! We all have other pieces to our lives that allow us to do our jobs well. Now please gather your things and quietly file out of the room. I am sure that we can safely say Class Dismissed for today!”

The PaperCut of DOOM! (bum ba BAAAAAH)

*Disclaimer: This is based on an actual discussion held today in my full of testosterone 2nd hour 5th grade Science classroom. I do not believe that I would have written this story without having had these boys ask this question…

“Mrs. Robbins,” Toby yelled, hopping up and down with one foot balanced in his seat and the other precariously hitting the floor/books/anything else in his way, “I have a question! MRS. ROBBINS! I HAVE TO ASK YOU SOMETHING!!!”

Sighing and shaking her head at their continued inability to follow procedures, Mrs. Robbins turned from passing out papers to stare down Toby and his two hangers-on, Bill and Hunter, who were following his lead with waving arms and blank faces. “Toby,” There it was, THE VOICE, the one that made her sound like her mother and scared the vast majority of her students. Somehow though, these three boys were oblivious to its power.

“So like, in this movie I was watching last night, hahaha, so they like used a piece of paper to make a throwing star and like, huhuhu, killed a bad guy with it,” Toby rushed to get all of his words in before Mrs. Robbins went ballistic. “Could that like, hahaha, could I like make one of those?”

“I suggest that you don’t try,” Mrs. Robbin’s had now switched tactics and her deadly calm and soft voice made even the two non-speaking buffoons back off and go to work on their papers.

“But like, I made one. See?” Toby held up a poorly folded paper star and proceeded to laughingly jab it at his own throat. “OUCH! Mrs. Robbins, I cut myself!”

“Its just a little paper cut,” Mrs. Robbins said stoically, “I told you to stop.”

“Yes ma’am,” Suitably sobered, Toby returned to his own work, rubbing sub consciously at his sore neck.

The next day, the red place on Toby’s neck had not gone away but instead was looking a mite bit angry. By week’s end, the paper cut had become infected and by the next Monday, Toby was admitted to the hospital. With proper care he was released by Wednesday, just in time for a pop quiz!

The moral of the story? Teacher probably does know best!

Thirsty Thursday

In honor of Halloween (my favorite holiday falling during my favorite time of year!) my student writing prompts all week have been pointed a little toward good spook…ok, a funny one!

Monday the prompt was about respect so we’ll skip that one. but Tuesday, ah Tuesday, the kids had to describe a monster…A NASTY HIDEOUS BEAST…who turns out to be nice. Like Frankenstein’s Monster with a gimp and drooling acid who is also the best math tutor in the country and helps kids pass tests for nothing more than a smile and pass from the angry mob chasing him out of town.

Wednesday we discussed why in the world a mob of cats would be stealing all of the candy from the houses already prepared for Halloween night (Cat Burglars…get it?? Only 1 of my 80 kids did.)

Today our Prompt is to write a recipe for the family Halloween party punch. SO far I’ve seen old socks, eyeballs, toe nails, and sherbet put in those recipes. I’m really looking forward to that drink!

Since we’re preparing for NaNoWriMo my students are also learning to count their output and worry more about the LENGTH of their writing; something I’ve been trying to get them to watch out for since the beginning of school. The best part about it is that they have seen and heard how excited I am about writing…and about NaNo…that they have all designed and put away their inner editors and are asking to start early. The bad news is that they’ll really be tired of it by week 2, especially since Ms. Tyree is going for NaNo gold again this year on top of pushing and helping them to reach their personal goals.

What are you doing this week? Are you prepping for NaNo like we are? Did you read something really great that you want to share? Did you read my books ;)? I can’t wait to hear from you all!

Short Story Sunday…NaNoPrep Style

Sometimes I really wonder if I’m doing the right thing with my life. I could just crawl back into my comfort zone cave, pull on my ratty pajamas, and binge watch cancelled television shows.


The thing is, though, that I’m comfortable here too…or I am beginning to be. My own little world in a room with bright posters and mutli-colored pens just beckoning inspiration and the smell of used notebook paper. Sure my writing suffers right now but I am training the next generation of great authors…Well, I’m trying to anyway. I just wish this new manuscript could move along a little more swiftly. I’ve been working on it for over a year now. It is definitely time to get these things flowing and have a storyline!


Ms. Charles sighed and put down her glittery ink pen. “I should be writing my novel, not this drivel!”

November is fast approaching,” the niggling voice in her brain taunted, the reminder only serving to worsen her headache. That inner editer, whom she had imagined into being a darkly beautiful and slightly foreign grammar vampire, always became a bit more snippy in the last few weeks before his month long yearly vacation.

“Outline,” Celina Charles murmured to herself, trying to ignore the deep voice, “What should I be outlining today?”

“Lost it, Didn’t you?”

That voice again!!! If only his reservation was for today, instead of next week! His belittling chatter was ruining her concentration! How could she have writer’s block BEFORE even starting National Novel Writer’s Month?

“You know…”


“Oh go jump off of a cliff!” Celina spat angrily at the empty classroom as the inner editor cackled in her weary mind.

“Umm, Ms. Charles?” A hesitant voice wafted through the doorway, “Lunch is over…Can we come in now???”a

Haunted Boneyard

Last week I told you a little about our upcoming lesson plan involving skeletons and an anchor chart of a haunted house. We did those activities at the beginning of this week and I was (and still am!) jazzed by how well it turned out!

Each class activated their prior knowledge, got excited, and created some scenes that will translate amazingly into their short stories next week. I think we might do more of these types of things! Hands on seems to be working best for my guys (and gals).

Here is a peek at what they got done…