The Quote Book

I have a quote book. This is not a book full of historic, meaningful, or even funny famous one liners and quotes (although I do have a few of those as well). No, this is a book of things said in passing my students and colleagues. Some of these are unintentional slip-ups that they prayed no one heard. Some are serious statements and questions that elicit a giggle or make people pause and wonder. Some are just down right weird.

All of these things get written down in a cute little orange and white notebook that lives in the back of my top, left desk drawer.

I did not originally set out to have a book of quotes. In fact, the notebook we use was originally purchased for me to use in tracking my exercise, my self acre, my goals, and some positive affirmations. You may, then, be wondering how my ‘self care’ notebook morphed in such an odd manner. Well, it all started with a whiteboard and weird turn of phrase. It was the second week of my first year at a new school in my third year of teaching. This was a very small school. So small that there were only 12 staff members. That year, 7 of us were new. We were asked to pose for a picture for the newspaper and one man, our new head coach, was much taller than the rest of us. (He is, in fact, a full foot taller than me…almost to the centimeter) In order to allow the image to be framed properly, he wound up leaning over on my shoulder. I made some comment about the large man on my shoulder weighing me down. That particular turn of phrase tickled the funny bone of one of my high school students to the extent that she decided to write it out on a large white board in my room. Soon, that white board was taken over with quotes from the entirety of the school population. By Christmas break our quote board could hold no more quotes. Suddenly my positivity and self care journal was pressed into service. Each quote that was cramped onto the white board was painstakingly transposed word for word and carefully erased from its position (so nothing could be accidentally copied down twice). New quotes began to be added. A place of honor was chosen to house the book. In a ceremony of astounding pomp and high levels of self importance, I was sworn to keep the book and continue its ‘mission’ of recording the funny and odd quotes from our everyday people.

Fast forward to today. Some of the teachers will now stop me in the hallway to let me hear a snippet or two  they’ve been holding on to for the book. It lives in its own little same place, hosting such precious gems as ‘those squiggled notes look angered,’ ‘I have been launching my umbrella at people,’ ‘that  is how pink was born,’ and ‘I was about to surrender to my own foot.’

Sometimes it isn’t just kids who say the darndest things, and I have a book to prove it.

Saturday Stories – 2/6/16

I had a fairly lengthy list of goals for last week and I believe I did a phenomenal job of not getting them accomplished. Let’s go over them:

Writing:

  1. Completing the final few pages of the original Paulonious Punk notebook so that I have to start writing in the new book this weekend. Ok I actually completed this goal as of a few minutes ago. (word count – approximately 1,000 untyped words)
  2. Completing the organization of The Way We Were – hahahaha I’ve had that on my goals list for a few weeks now and I’ve gotten a little done on it but, on the whole, I’ve been focusing Paulonious and short stories. 
  3. Reading over The Wishbone Tree and working on that story – Ok, I did read it again and make a few notes so I’m going to count that as completed goal!

Reading:

  1. Donna Tart’s The Goldfinch – I decided to give up on reading this book for the moment. I am still incredibly interested in it, but I just haven’t gotten into it this time around.
  2. Sara J. Maas Crown of Midnight – I completed this book yesterday and OH MY GOODNESS! I rated this a 5 star on Goodreads because there aren’t half-star options. In reality, I’ve placed this somewhere around 4.5 stars, there were a few slower places but I’ll discuss that more in the actual book review.

Other Goals: 

1. Coloring – I finished one color sheet last! That’s not much, really, but it made me happy! 

2. Catching up on shows – I got addicted to the Great British Baking Show and somehow have not watched any of my other list! I’ll do better next week 😉

 

Now that you’ve slogged through my weekly wrap up, here is a reward! The following short piece is one I originally wrote in February of 2014 as one of my first Short Story Sunday pieces (I wrote one short story a week for the entire year) and find that I enjoy it more now than I did when I originally posted it. SO…here it is,

The Stream

It was just a stream, really. A sometimes babbling, sometimes rushing section of water that crashed over, around, and between the moss covered stones.

The bank was slippery, treacherous to climb most days that he went, the water much too cold to swim in unless during the height of summer, and the woods surrounding the clearing became terrifyingly spookier as twilight neared.

So why was he drawn here, day after day? He had not played here in his youth. He hadn’t even known of the nearby town’s existence until moving to Maine from New Mexico two years before, armed with a brand new teaching license and an offer to teach eighth grade math.

Quite frankly, the enveloping verdance and frequent rain showers unnerved the poor fellow. Yet day after day her left his classroom, drove to his ‘historical’ farmhouse one town over, grabbed his bag and bottled water, and, occasionally accompanied by the cat, made his way through the field and down the path to a large, almost hollowed out stone. Here he would sit during all but the worst weather, protected by overhanging vegetation as he graded papers, wrote lesson plans, or just sat.

Little thoughts and one liners were jotted down. Characters and plot ideas were placed on note cards, and all of it was unceremoniously shoved into an ever growing binder.  The time passed, though his twilight unease did not, and the young man began to hear the wind’s whispers and see the flitting wings in his surroundings.

Though he was offered better paying jobs elsewhere throughout the years, he would always stay in that same small school, with his ever changing stream.

Years later, with numerous best-sellers under his belt, the now older and much more famous man took the stand as a commencement speaker at that same small school.

“Life,” he said, “Does not always do what you think it should. Do not be afraid to face your fears, to do your best no matter what, and to go where you must. And always remember that sometimes all you have to do is sit down, shut up, and listen.”

He then walked down the silent aisle, drove to his ‘historical’ farmhouse in the next town over, grabbed his notebook and bottle of water, and made his way home.

Teacher Review: Next Lesson

*I was asked to give my honest review of NextLesson in return for a small payment and membership*

There is often a struggle for teachers to find a balance in their lessons. Not just to keep the students behaving and listening…but really to keep them engaged and learning. This struggle seems to get more difficult each year and is especially evident in upper elementary and middle school students, who have grown into themselves and their social stigmas enough to start worrying more about what their friends are doing or thinking, than what the teacher is!

A site that can help you find these types of lesson is NextLesson.org. They have interesting, engaging, and multi-directional lessons that are sure to please administrations, teachers, and students. I have spent the last few days excitedly searching through lessons for various subjects and age groups, finding dozens that I would have either used as is or found a way to adapt to the correct age group if I was teaching this year. However, I am not in my own classroom (so far) so I decided to review a lesson that grabbed my attention as soon as I saw it on the site.

The NextLesson set of plans I chose to review for this post is geared toward sixth graders and should immediately grab the attention of your students, engaging their minds and actively helping them to learn in a way that makes it fun and inviting for them.

Entitled “Build a Time Machine”  with the driving question/subtitle “How Can We Learn From People in the Past?”  this lesson begins with your own choice of activity that will peak student interest in the subject of time, specifically points of time. Look at the science book, look at the history book, and let them know where in time you’ll be studying (traveling). then discuss the driving question. Sound odd? You betcha…but guess what’s next? A video introducing the idea of time travel and, specifically, building their own time machine.

That’s Right!

Students will build their own desktop time machines from repurposed, recycled materials found around their homes or towns. No purchasing materials, and no having other people (like your family!) bringing them to you. This project is scheduled to take 5 weeks, corresponding to ‘time traveling’ in class while learning world history and while discovering the possibilities of making time travel work using science.

During this month of lessons, NextLesson provides you with ideas, suggestions, and print outs so that students (AND TEACHERS!) have what they need at their fingertips. With ideas like a ‘Tweet Board’ on which students write ‘tweets’ to brag about their projects, a ready to use ‘how it works’ page for students to explain the science behind their machine, and a group video or essay giving advice to the next generation of time travelers (And giving the teacher student reflections) this set of lesson aids is sure to get your gears whirring!

*warning: Geek Moment Approaching* So, warm up your Tardis, grab your Sonic Screwdrivers, and come on! The Ancients are waiting…

What I Wish My Students Knew…

The other day I took a tip from trending topics and asked my 5th graders to write their final journal entry over “What I Wish My Teacher Knew.” It was heart wrenching. Some of the students wanted to tell me about home things, sick family members that are being hush/hush, bullying in the neighborhood, worries about moving up to Middle School, or even missing parents. Some wanted me to know that although they’re good students, they HATE school. They don’t like studying, they hate having to answer questions, and they only want to hang out and play sports.

In every class, they asked me what I wanted them to know. I responded, of course, that I am proud of them all and that they have been through a lot as a grade this year and everyone made it through admirably. Needless to say, we had an emotional day.

Now I want to let them know what I REALLY want them to know:

What I wish my students knew:

1) Ms. Tyree (and every teacher you’ve had) cares more about you and your future than you will ever know. We worry over you long after you’ve left our class and will remember you long after you forget who you had for 5th grade writing.

2) Sometimes, even though we really do care about you, we just need time to finish whatever it is we’re doing…even if all we’re doing is taking a deep breath!

3) There is never a good reason to insult people, even if you’re playing and it’s your friend…adults have a hard time with this as well.

4) I know you feel pushed around and talking back is a way to take some of that power you crave…get over it. There will ALWAYS be someone in charge of at least one aspect of your life. Bosses, spouses, parents, teachers, law makers, etc. will all have a say in what you do and how you do it. Fight for things that are worth it, but talking back just to hear your voice is not one of those things.

5) YOU (YES YOU!) are SMART. So maybe you don’t have the best grades and maybe sometimes you don’t understand everything the first or even fiftieth time….that’s ok. Everyone learns differently and everyone has things that are more difficult to learn. You CAN and WILL get it as long as you keep at it.

6) Stay Creative! The spark inside that makes you who you are, and that sends you twirling through the classroom on a whim, is an amazing gift. Never lose it. However, channel that creativity into art, mechanics, robotics, music, dance…anything that excites you and stop hopping like a frog in my classroom!

7) You are an Author….You Are a Scientist…and You ARE Amazing. I am very proud to have the honor of being in your lives.

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

Thrashin’ Thursday

This week has been an odd one. With teacher work days on Monday (no school for students) and a sick child, it doesn’t seem as if it should be Thursday today…but I’m not sure if it should be earlier or later in the week! All afternoon I felt as if it were Friday, only to be sadly disappointed when I realized otherwise. Every student has been cranked up and crazy, and there are 2 new ones this week too!

According to friends and relatives (who lead real lives and go outside once in a while) this oddness has stretched out to non-school related places like eateries, shopping places, and extra-special road rage. So now I am curious, is this just our area? Is it just the result of odd weather changes and the extra super moon last week? Or is something more sinister afoot? (Or ahead, or a-hand, or perhaps an-ear?)

Should I chalk it up to the excessive amount of adhd and uneducated people that are piling into our area and perhaps write a story centering around it…or should I worry?

How are things in your neck of the woods?

OH, SNAP!

Ok, show of hands…who remembers Legally Blond 2 and the Snap cup?? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the video clip here. The basic premise is that when co-workers or classmates start looking for the good in each other, the workplace (classroom) is a happier and more cohesive unit.

Now that we’re all on the same page:

Whatever classroom I am blessed to have this coming school year will have a variation on this great idea. (I know, school just ended, but I have to set up an ENTIRE class.) Are you ready for this?? We will have the “OH, SNAP!” cup!! Decorated with alligator skin scrapbook paper, a coloring sheet alligator I plucked from my BBC Plant Earth: Awesome Animals coloring book, and a live action image of a snapping alligator’s mouth, this container will be the receptacle for ‘warm fuzzies’ and ‘caught being good’ notes from students to their classmates and from myself (and other adults) to my students.

If you’re looking to make one of your very own, this was fairly simple and satisfying to make.

1) have a kid who drinks Nido (A toddler formula replete with vitamins, made by Nestle and sold in the WalMart ‘Hispanic foods’ aisle), or just use a large coffee container etc.

2) Wash out the container, dry it off

3) Decide on a ‘theme’ for your ‘snap cup’ and find suitable decorations. I used green animal scale scrapbook paper and taped it onto the can.

4) Attach other decorations as you see fit…I wrote “OH, SNAP!” on the scrapbook paper and added a cut out from a coloring book page.

5) Find a picture or scrapbook paper etc. to cover the can’s lid (Optional but encouraged…can be the most awesome part!). I searched for an image of an alligator with his mouth open and printed it up.

6) Adhere the picture to the lid

7) I took the extra few minutes and sealed in both the lid and can coverings with clear contact paper to give longer shelf life to the item.

8) Cut a hole in the lid for people to slide in their notes.

9) sit back and survey your artwork. Satisfying, isn’t it?

 

 

Here is what I came up with:

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Scrapbook paper created a base to build on..this plain section actually says “Oh, SNAP!”

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Here’s my coloring book friend…I purchased the coloring book a few years ago at a “Everything’s a Dollar”. These things really come in handy!

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The hole for ‘oh snap’ papers to be deposited through will be in the alligator’s mouth…”OH SNAP!”

Tyree Tomes Friday

WooHoo! Dr. Wilson Jay Tyree’s book o’ the week, Ministerial Musings, has surpassed the 200+ mark in this week’s giveaway! If you have not downloaded your free copy yet, please hurry. The giveaway ends at midnight tonight. Never fear though my friends, his new children’s book, Monsoon McKreel and the Rose, will be available for free download beginning Monday, May 19th!

Also beginning on Monday, May 19th, will be a three day give away for the third book in my Stone Dragon Saga, Dragon on the Green.

We are both constantly working on new articles, short stories, and books so don’t forget to follow us on Facebook at Tyree Tomes for updates, debates, and big news from the Tyree family authors. We’re ten ‘likes’ away from someone winning a free hardback, personalized copy of one of our books. Hurry over so you can be in the running. And please don’t forget to tell us what you think about our books. Good or bad, all comments are appreciated….otherwise we can’t fix whatever isn’t working for you!

Have a Blessed Weekend!

Sentences of all Sorts

 

Inspired by a ‘first line’ from PenHelps blog post (and my reply). The first sentence was my comment on that post. The rest soon followed.

 

Sadly I believe that if given the option between three non-fatal abdominal stab wounds and ten algebra problems…I would choose to be stabbed. I would probably even stand still and only scream a little bit, something that wouldn’t happen with the algebra. Ever seen someone with a spider/snake dance? My math dance is superior. It isn’t so much that I dislike numbers. In fact, I rather enjoy odd numbers and random decimals; however, algebra is an entirely different animal. One which gathers together elements and mixes ingredients that should never be put in the same bowl at the same time.

So called ‘higher mathematics’ is, in my mind, like the voodoo of the educational world. I wouldn’t be surprised to see teachers start walking around with little scapulars hanging around their necks soon. If it wards off the mixing of letters and numbers or the addition of those little squiggly symbols, sign me up for one that smells like sandalwood!

I know that this isn’t the best attitude for a teacher to have but let me be clear here: mathematics on the elementary school level do not cause me panic attacks. I am quite able to teach and grade upper elementary addition/subtraction/multiplication/division and even basic geometry. When n and x are merely placeholders for the missing side of the triangle I can still breathe…albeit a little less deeply. I am an author, a reader, a musician, a crafter…I am NOT an architect. I don’t understand those things. Give me a notebook and ink pens, I’ll craft sentences all day long happily. Just don’t give me a pencil and ask for number sentences…lead gives me hives.

I’m sure that there is some de-seated emotional or psychological issue that could be dug out and flaunted to show the world WHY I dislike numbers so much (Actually, I like odd numbers but the even ones are problematic) and why the willy-nilly addition of art and alphabet makes me sick to my stomach. I’m probably rebelling against a teacher or family member who loved numbers back in the day. But I don’t think so. I think that many creative types find the truth…there is a disconnect somewhere in which numbers and words don’t want to be friends. Maybe they had a fight when they were stuck together on the ark, with only wild animals for company in the hold, and neither of them remembers what the fight was about but now they can’t stand to be in the room together for very long. I don’t know.

I do know what side I’m on if the War of the Sentences ever starts, but that’s probably because I wouldn’t be able to understand General XYN of the Number Sentence Army, Platoon Circumference.

 

New Books and New Jobs

Tyree Tomes has had a busy week. Dr. Tyree finished his new book, which will be available on Kindle within the next few days and deals with the act of Prayer. I reached my Camp NaNoWriMo goal of 30,000 words in the month, perfected my happy dance, and interviewed with 3 elementary school principals all at the same time (I was surrounded and a little frightened…but I guess it was a viable form of interrogation interview).

I also gave away 37 copies of Dragon on My Neck’s e-book version and have begun looking at collecting my first four months of short stories into a book which will include the prompt or idea that sparked the story and then the actual story. (If any of you picked up Dragon on My Neck at any point, I would LOVE to know how you felt about the story and characters! If you don’t want to rate/review on it, just drop me a line or comment. Whether or not you liked it, I want to know about YOUR feelings. It can help my writing maturity…or so I’m told 😀 )

 

Oh, and I got offered a teaching job for next school year!

With all of this going on, I feel confident in our group’s growth, expansion, and most importantly, quality of content. I am quite certain that whatever classroom I am given, will provide me with all sorts of fodder for blogs and short stories to pass on to you! Thank you for your support and good will everyone! Have a blessed day!