niennie

twenty-something. girly girl. teacher. puppy-enthusiast.


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The Apple Tree – 5

This morning I finished reading my fifth book of the year (fifth?! That’s it?!  I know, I’m way behind).  It is called The Apple Tree: Raising Five Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane.  You can visit the author, Linda Petersen, at her blog here.

As an educator, reading about children with special needs is both interesting and helpful to me.  You never know what you’re going to see in your classroom someday, and as I do not have very much special education experience under my belt (I work in a general ed classroom), I soak up other people’s experiences.  And this woman, to say the least, has had quite the experiences!

Petersen has five children (obviously).  Her oldest is her biological son, and the other four were adopted – three of which adopted after having fostered them as infants and toddlers.  Each of her children has a different disability, but her optimism shows through in her writing.  She is proof that having one – or several – children with disabilities does not mean you cannot lead a happy, fulfilling life!

Her story was powerful and inspiring.  I flew through this book, I just couldn’t put it down.  I very highly recommend it!


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Daily Prompt: Write Here, Write Now

Daily Prompt: Write Here, Write Now

I’m sitting in bed, munching on pepper strips after having gone to the gym (yay for me!), and catching up on my blog reading.  I read the prompt for today and I am thinking about this post I am writing, and where I am going with it.

Before I click the publish button, I read through what others said in response.  Now I’m worrying because these responses are not like the one I had imagined.  I’m thinking that I must be wrong, since my idea is different.

But I know that there is no wrong way to blog.  I am thinking, I am writing, I am creating.  So what if my idea is different that the other posts?  I remind myself that the daily prompt is just that – a prompt – and is completely open to interpretation.  The guidelines are loose, and every interpretation is a correct one.

I’m sitting in bed, munching on pepper strips after having gone to the gym.  I’m happy that I went and did something good for myself.  My boyfriend is playing some game on xbox one, COD or Battlefield 4, I don’t know because I don’t pay enough attention to know the difference.  I want to take a shower and play some solitaire, but I know that I should work on report card comments for my class.  I only have six more to write, but it’s going to take me an hour at least.

For this moment, I am content to just take a moment to relax, let my stream of consciousness flow, and then do the necessary activities.


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How To How To.

Daily Prompt: Teach Your (Bloggers) Well

I became very excited when I first read this prompt.  Hey!  I am a teacher!  This is going to be fun.  Especially since we are concluding our unit in writing on how-to pieces!

But then… *crickets*

Uh… What am I going to write about?  I could teach you to make something – brownies, pasta sauce, sugar cookies, buffalo chicken nachos… Or I could write a how-to about making paper snowflakes.  That’s what I did at school for my students.  I could teach you to make a paper fortune teller, or how to be a bucket-filler, or how to choose a ripe pear.  But those aren’t really unique ideas.  None of my ideas really spoke to me at all, honestly.  How did I conquer my writer’s block?

Well, I didn’t.  I drew a blank, and I gave up.

Then it occurred to me: I would consider that behavior unacceptable in my students.  I wouldn’t let them choose not to complete the assignment because they “couldn’t” think of something, or “didn’t like” their ideas.  I would’ve told them to choose something and make it work.

Last week I had my students complete a writing assessment required by the district.  I give them a writing prompt and they have 40-45 minutes to write on the topic.  I am not allowed to give them any help, guidance, or feedback during writing time.  The prompt asks them to think and write a true story about something that happened to them or something they did.  Every time I give this prompt, about 12-13 of my students begin writing immediately.  The other 3-4 sit with a look of fear plastered on their faces and appeal to me for help.  What am I allowed to tell them?  Nothing, other than some encouraging words.  Just do your best!  Think of something that you’ve done and write about it!  You can think of something!  And eventually they do.  (As a side note, their narratives this time around were good – I was very impressed with their progress).

It’s hard to watch them struggle and not be able to offer any help.  As I struggled with coming up with a good idea for the daily prompt, I thought to myself… wow.  If it’s hard for me to come up with a good idea, an idea that I can really devote myself to, is it really fair to be asking this of students?  This is a low-stress situation for me – it really doesn’t matter whether or not I actually respond to this prompt.  In their first grade minds, do they know that this is an assessment used to keep track of their developmental writing?  Probably not.  But they do know that their teacher is asking them to do something difficult, and it is important because she said there is absolutely no talking allowed, which happens very rarely in our classroom.  They also know that they work very hard to please their teacher, and they want to do something they can be proud of, so that she will be proud of them too.  The stress level there is higher than it is for me, laying in bed at home, contemplating a blogging prompt.

Generally speaking, during lessons where we write narratives, how-tos, fictional stories, whatever the topic or genre – my students have a few days to plan and brainstorm ideas.  We never just start writing, unless it is an informal journal entry, usually where they are allowed to choose the topic.  So I chewed on some ideas, and decided to write you a first-grade how-to on writing a how-to.

How to Write a How-To

Materials:

Pencil, pen, or markers
Paper
Crayons or colored pencils

OR

A computer with a word processing program

OR

A typewriter, if you’re old school like that.
Have you ever struggled to teach someone to do something you’re good at?  Sometimes it can be tricky to properly give instructions to a friend when you want them to learn how to do something.  In this how-to you will learn how to properly write your very own how-to piece!

First, create a list of things you are an expert at doing.  Read over your list and choose a topic that you would like to write your how-to on.  You can either write your list (and how-to) with your pencil, pen, markers, and paper or using a computer.

Second, write a list of all the things your reader will need to complete your how-to.  This is called a materials list.

Third, write an opening or introduction for your how-to.  It helps to start with a question like, “have you ever…” or “do you know how to…” because it draws the reader in.  Next, tell them what they will learn in your how to or why they should keep reading it.

Now it’s time to write out the steps.  Carefully think through every step of your how-to.  You don’t want to leave anything out!  Write the steps down in the order that they should be done.  Read over them to make sure you have all the information you need.

After you have the steps written, you will want to go back and add in transition words.  Transition words are words like first, second, third, next, then, after, last, and finally.  These words help the reader know what the steps are and the order to do them in.

Next you can write the closing.  The closing usually sums up what you’ve written in your how-to and tells the reader what they can do now that they are armed with this knowledge.  Sometimes the closing tells the benefits of knowing how to do this new activity, using words such as, “enjoy!” or “have fun!”

After the closing is written, you can go back and add pictures to your steps.  Pictures are very important in a how-to because it gives the reader a visual aid as they attempt to follow your steps.  Use your crayons and colored pencils to make your pictures interesting and pleasing to the eye.

Finally, you can add labels to your pictures.  Labels will also help the reader to better understand the directions you give in the how-to.

Now you have your very own how-to book!  You can make your how-to into a little booklet and give it out to friends and family.  Try following these steps again to write how-tos on a bunch of different topics.  You can write how-tos on how to make food, crafts, or how to play games and sports.  Be creative!  Happy writing 🙂


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Share Your World – 2014 Week 4

Share Your World – 2014 Week 4

Props to both Cee and Chris for this week’s questions!  I’m going to greatly enjoy answering these.

 

Do you recharge your energy by going out with friends for a good time or by spending with quiet time alone?

I enjoy going out and on occasion that’s the scene I crave after a long week… however, usually on a Friday night all I want to do is stay at home, drink some wine, write my lesson plans, and then read until I fall asleep at around 9:30 or so.  Ah, the life of a teacher!  Even on weekends, or breaks, or snow days… whenever really… I prefer to snuggle in bed and read.  That’s my “recharging.”  After I’ve caught up on that, then I can go out with friends or to shop.

Share Your World – 2014 Week 4

What is the most number of blankets you’ve ever had on your bed?

This is reminding me of some blizzard in the past few years where we lost power in the house.  We have a generator and a wood stove, however the generator is not hooked up to the blower, so you just kind of have to wait/hope that the heat travels through the house.  The wood furnace is in the basement and my room is on the second floor, though, and even though heat rises it has a lot of house to get through until it reaches my room.  I believe on those few nights that week I slept with 3-4 blankets on the bed while wearing multiple shirts, a sweatshirt, and two pairs of sweatpants.  Those were the nights that I missed having my doggie share my bed with me!

You are invited to a party that will be attended by many fascinating people you never met. Would you attend this party if you were to go by yourself?

Honestly it completely depends on my mood that day.  Sometimes I enjoy going to parties and mingling with new people, with or without my boyfriend.  Sometimes that situation gives me severe social anxiety and I withdraw somewhat.  So it’s really hard for me to say!  I guess if you could GUARANTEE that they’re fascinating AND that they are socially fluent, then I would say yes.  Maybe. 😉

Share Your World – 2014 Week 4

Do you like talking to people on the phone? Or do you prefer voice mail or email?

I used to loathe talking to people on the phone but a few things changed that: one, having a long-distance boyfriend where phone calls were the easiest and best form of communication.  Two, having a good friend living in South Carolina where again, talking on the phone was the easiest way to catch up.  And three, working as a receptionist at a country club made talking on the phone much less stressful because answering the phone was part of my job!  I learned so much about phone communication that way and I believe that I am a better, more-prepared phone caller and message leaver now because it drove me crazy when people didn’t leave all the necessary information in a voice mail to me.  For a year I talked on the phone quite a lot at this job, and it has since taken away anxiety of calling others on the phone.

Except, of course, when I need to call parents… I hate calling parents… in that case, I’d take a face-to-face conference with a parent any day over talking on the phone!  But e-mail is the most convenient out of all of them I think.

Share Your World – 2014 Week 4

All pictures courtesy of google images.


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Daily Prompt: Your Days are Numbered

Daily Prompt: Your Days are Numbered

How’s this for a numbers story?  In six days, on the first of February, I will be twenty-six years old.  That’s a quarter of a century plus one.  A quarter and a penny.  If you live for twenty-five years, and then live one more, how old are you?

I really liked turning 25.  25 is a good number: I’m still young, but not so much of a baby.  It’s a well-rounded number.  It sounds good, it looks good.  26 is scary.  26 is getting close to 30.  26 is the gateway year to 27, 28, 29… It makes me realize that I won’t be young forever, and that I will be getting old way before I am ready.  I don’t want to be old.  I want to stay young forever!  Ahhhh.  Even the title of this prompt supports that thought.

That is all I will say about my age, I won’t obsess about it or spend any more time and/or internet space on how 25 is better than 26.  Because when it comes down to it, I love my birthday.  I love celebrating it and presents and cake.  As long as I have a good time, it really doesn’t matter how old I am.


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What Would You Do?

What Would You Do?

I know that Edward Hotspur said “answer this in the comments!” but it’s one of my pet peeves to leave obnoxiously long comments so I chose to steal the questions and create a post around them instead.

I am having a realization at this time that I tend to do a lot of these types of posts.  Is that a bad thing?

Oh, who gives a hoot.  This is my blog, right?  Exactly.  I knew you’d agree with me!

1. There is a timer ticking down to the time you will meet your soulmate. Where do you go? Stay near your current address? Travel that day? Stay single even if it means you won’t meet them until your 40s or 50s?

This question implies that I have not yet my soulmate yet, and seeing as how I am in a committed relationship right now, that worries me.  Okay, so let’s pretend that my current boyfriend is not my soulmate.  If that were the case, I would not just break up with him because there’s some elusive magical timer that is counting down the hours, minutes, seconds until I meet my “true” soulmate.  I’m more of a person who likes to see where things go, because what is meant to be will happen, and if it’s not meant to be then something will come up to prevent it from coming to fruition.  I love my boyfriend so I see no need to end this relationship just based on this fact.  Of course, now I am thinking that just because the timer is ticking down and you meet this so-called “soulmate,” the question is NOT implying that you will choose to be with that person – so I may choose to stay with my boyfriend, meet this other soulmate, and then continue to be with my boyfriend.  Or I could be with my boyfriend, meet the soulmate, and tell my boyfriend to go eff himself while I get together with the soulmate… Which is incredibly low-class.

2. Same thing, only it’s ticking down to your death. Does your life change because of this knowledge? Do you live more recklessly because of it? Do you refrain from having children if your life will be short?

I think it depends on when my death is.  If I’m going to die in a year, then yes I’m changing my life – I’m going to travel more, spend time with friends and family, all those things.  I would toy with the idea of quitting my job, but I really love my job so I don’t think I would.  Not right away at least.  If the timer is ticking down to a death in my 30’s or 40’s, then I would definitely consider not having children, because that’s a lot to put a young person through for no reason.  Hell, I’m almost 26… if I had a baby this year they would, at most, be 14 when I died.  But I don’t know if I would want to deprive my boyfriend of not having children at all either.  If I was going to die at 35 or 40, I’m not sure if I would stay with my boyfriend though.  I don’t know if I would want him to go through that loss and then look for a new love.  I think it would be easier for him to start over now.  I would at least need to give him the option to back out now.  This question is really depressing me so I’m going to move to the next one…

3. You can go back to any point in your life and relive it, but you keep your current knowledge. You start again from that point. If it makes it easier, you can do this on your deathbed so you don’t miss anything in ‘this’ life. When do you go to, and why? What do you change, if anything?

Tricky question.  I wouldn’t want to relive my life from any point, honestly.  That just seems like a lot of work to do all over again.  I usually say that I wouldn’t change anything about my past because it’s made me who I am today, and I like me.  But there is one situation I would change if I could.  Years ago, when I was a very, very stupid teenager, I was dating a much older man (I was 19, he was 31).  It was not a healthy relationship.  This man took advantage of me in a very personal, intimate, and unforgivable way.  If I could go back and change anything in my life, I would’ve sucker punched him in the face, called him out for the douche bag that he was, and left the apartment right then and there.

4. You can go forward to any point in your life, live for a week, and come back. What age would you visit? And would you change anything?

I don’t think I would want to go forward to any point.  I would feel too much anxiety/pressure that I would inadvertently change something I didn’t want to change, and obsess over the things I would want to change.

5. You can clone yourself. Or, a duplicate of yourself shows up. Would you take turns trading lives? Would you trust the other you to do the same things you do now? Would you switch daily, or some larger period? Would you tell your spouse? Would you sleep with yourself, with or without your spouse? Would it be cheating if the other you slept with your spouse?

I am a control freak and often distrustful so no, that clone AKA impostor would not be allowed to trade lives with me.  I would not trust them.  I would tell my boyfriend that a clone of me showed up because that’s just strange.  I don’t know if I would want to sleep with myself, but yes I do consider that cheating.  They may look like me, but they are not the same person as me.  That would be like identical twins being able to do each other without consequences or labels of cheating.

6. Once in your life, you can kill someone penalty-free. Do you kill anyone? This isn’t mercy-killing, execution or self-defense. This is cold-blooded murder, one per lifetime.  Do you save it for a “rainy day”, or do you plan on one person and just wait for the right time?

No, no, and no.  No.  No no no.  I couldn’t do it.  I feel guilty killing bugs.  I feel awful when I accidentally kill a butterfly, bird, or squirrel while driving.  Human and animal torture makes me feel sick inside.  I have no desire to kill anyone!


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Actors Anonymous: A Novel – 4

I must say that the only main reason I purchased and read this book is that James Franco is the author.  Let us take a moment to review this reason…

ImageImage

Image

 

Thank you, google images.

Ahem.

Anyways, the book was interesting.  A mesh of a bunch of different story lines, not so much intertwined but… yeah.  Honestly there were times I had no idea what was going on in the book.  And there were some parts I found a little dry, or just not that interesting.  But that’s okay, because anytime I zoned out while reading those parts, I just pictured this:

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Which is honestly much, much sexier than what I am usually thinking about when I zone out while reading.

I appreciated and enjoyed this book for art’s sake.  It made me think of a friend I had in high school, who would often have conversations with me where I had no idea what he was talking about, but I knew that’s because he was so intelligent that I was unable to keep up.  I think that’s what happened here.  Or at least that’s what I’ll tell myself – that Franco’s artistic vision was just way above my comprehension level.  Luckily for me, I have no problems comprehending his aesthetic.

Carry on!