April 28


Creative Response to Story: Choose one of the following. You should finish this for homework and bring to class to share tomorrow:

Choice 1: Write a vocabulary poem (like the ones from The Crossover) using a word from the article. A detailed example with guidelines is on the class blog. www.mrsobrienC17.edublogs.org The honors classes already had this for homework so you Block 5 will definitely need to review the guidelines.
Choice 2: Write any kind of poem you wish that shows me how you feel when you think of The Holocaust and/or the life of Anne Frank.
Choice 3: Write a Thank You letter to Anne explaining why you are grateful she left us her diary.
Choice 4: Draw a picture that illustrates how you feel after reading this article. You must include a one paragraph explanation of what you drew and why to submit with your drawing.

April 28

My Vocabulary Poem

Reflection: As I was trying to choose a word for the poem, I struggled to find a word that represented all of the emotions that surround the life and death of Anne Frank. And what her legacy is for me. I thought maybe I should write from my unique perspective as a teacher, who used to be a young girl and student.

Legacy is the word that comes to mind for me. As Anne wrote in her diary, “If God lets me live…I shall not remain insignificant…I shall work for in the world for mankind.” The article ends with the sentence, “Through her diary, Anne Frank lives forever.”
Isn’t that what most of us want? For our lives to have meant something? As a teacher, I want my time in the classroom to inspire others. I want to make sure my students have time to discuss and respond to life in ways that are relevant to them. I am excited to see how my students will respond to this article on Anne Frank. So I’m going to title my vocabulary poem, “Legacy.” 



April 24

Vocabulary Poem Guidelines

  • Find an interesting word in a book you are reading or that you’ve wondered about before for some reason. Maybe it sounds cool or you’ve always wondered how to use it in a sentence
  • Title of the poem is the word you choose. It should be written EXACTLY as it appears in the dictionary (Dictionary.com)
  • pronunciation should be written underneath title (exactly as it appears in the dictionary)
  • part of speech (from dictionary)
  • Length: It should be at least 4 stanzas
  • Stanza 1: A version of the dictionary’s definition
  • Stanza’s 2, 3, 4 (or more) should begin with:
    As in:
    and then give an example of using this word in a sentence. The sentence should reflect either your personal feelings about a topic using your word; or, the feelings/perspective of a character you are reading about. (Or both, if you choose)
  • The final stanza should use the word and let the reader know what your “So What” is for the word…in other words…why is this word important enough to you that you chose it as your poem subject
  • Make sure you italicize the word in the poem whenever you use it.


Here’s an example from The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (p.104):

 i ron ic

[AY-RON-IK] adjective

Having a curious or humorous
unexpected sequence of events
marked by coincidence.

As in: The fact that Vondie
hates astronomy
and his mom works for NASA
is ironic.

 As in: It’s not ironic
that Grandpop died
in a hospital
and Dad doesn’t like

As in: Isn’t it ironic 
that showoff JB,
with all his swagger,
is too shy
to talk
to Miss Sweet Tea,
so he gives me the phone?




April 7

Elvis Rides Again

March Slice Challenge #19

Driving to Tennessee along Interstate 81 relaxes me. Unless the tractor trailers are hogging the road, I am able to drive the speed limit and let my mind wander a little. Over spring break, as I was driving, I looked over to the right lane (I was in the left) and saw a powder-blue classic car — probably from the 1950s. It was nice to look at because it had been restored to its original glory. As I was intently checking out the car, my eyes scanned the driver. He had black hair and huge sunglasses and his left arm was crooked and lackadaisically hanging out the window. Wait. What? Elvis?

It was Elvis! Elvis was driving the car. “Mom! Look!” My mom had been dosing in the passenger seat. “It’s Elvis!” I said incredulously.

“Huh? What?” she said looking out the window. Then she saw him, too, and we both laughed hysterically.

Elvis was driving much slower than I was so I blew past him. I tried to slow down to see him again after I got up the road because I wanted to look closer. But it was no use. He was gone. He probably took the last exit for supper before heading to Graceland.

March 22

Crashing & a Safe Place to Land


image from GoodReads.com

March Slice Challenge #18
I finished reading Crash by Jerry Spinelli yesterday and I definitely felt like crying when I read the last page. Not sad-crying, but poignant-crying. I was touched by this book. I thought a lot about the main character, Crash Coogan, and how much he changed throughout the course of the book. I liked the ending a lot but of course I won’t give anything away on here. 

Something I noticed in the story that I felt like writing about was safe places. There are certain people (and places) you just feel safe being around. For Crash, he felt safe when he was around Scooter, especially curled up beside him hearing his life’s stories. One always fears losing their safe person or safe place and I’m no exception to that. When I lost my father to cancer, I lost my safe person. I didn’t think the world would ever be the same. And it hasn’t. But just like Crash learns, there is great personal growth when something happens that changes your idea of a safe place. I’m stronger now in different ways and I’ve had to shift where I find my strength. Anyway, it’s a beautiful story and I can’t wait to hear about what you think when you finish it. 

March 22

Digital Distraction

March Slice Challenge #17


from NYTimes.com Reading Club article


How do phones affect your life? According to this month’s Scholastic Scope magazine, in more ways than you may have considered. The article was about “digital distraction” and how leading neuroscientists are worried about the negative effects of being around technology constantly.

Statistics have shown that phone related accidents have become a major health problem. The author cited stories about a teen being killed by a car while using her smartphone when stepping into a crosswalk; a boy who suffered a severe concussion when he walked into a telephone phone; and another teen who fell off a bridge because he was distracted by his phone. It’s concerning to think about how dangerous our devices can be if we’re not careful when using them. It’s very easy to get distracted and zone out. I am definitely guilty of getting lost in the world of my smartphone only to realize that someone was trying to talk to me.

Another interesting point in the article was how our smartphones make it harder to focus and get work done. It compared our brains to a computer in the way they need time to reboot when “powered down.” For the human brain, it takes about 30 minutes to get into deep concentration for writing an essay. If you’re distracted by your smartphone, and you pause to check your social network updates, or take a quick picture to post to Instagram, it will take you longer to get back on task and get your work done. As I type this blog post, I am trying to resist looking at my phone to see what notification just sounded.

Constant interruptions and even distractions from notifications can make me irritable and cranky. Especially since I enjoy peace and quiet when I’m writing and trying to think. I’ve often wondered if our increasingly digital world was unhealthy for us; however, I didn’t want to sound like the grownups I remember who always said things like, “I remember when I was little and we didn’t have….” “Times were simpler then and better because…” I didn’t want to sound like I had a case of the technology jitters but when leading experts cite studies like the ones in this article, it makes me wonder if the way this generation uses technology really is different…and not in a good way.

I found it especially interesting to read about how no one seems to be bored anymore because of our technology. I wonder if that’s really true. I think we definitely have more ways to distract ourselves from boredom but I’ve been bored with technology plenty of times. There are times when I can’t look at another status update, blog post, or photo online. I think we can still be bored.
I also think we can still be creative despite being bored less.

That being said, I LOVE the times when I am unplugged and have an excuse to ignore all of the digitial distraction. I forgot my mobile phone at home this afternoon when I was running errands with my family. Not being able to text, check things online, or take photos of my son helped me stay more in the moment, and enjoy my time with my family more today.

It all comes back to making choices and finding balance in life. Especially with the use of technology. As we become a BYOT school, this is important to remember. I am excited about the BYOT program! But I know it’s important to unplug to connect with each other, too. As a classroom, we will need to strike a balance and help each other. 




March 22

FitBit (No)Charge

March Slice Challenge #16


from Google image search


It drives me crazy when I lose things. Especially chargers to my electronics. This past week, I mysteriously lost or misplace the chargers to my FitBit and bluetooth speaker. I especially missed being able to use my FitBit to track how much daily exercise I get. Now that the weather is getting nicer, I hope my step count will increase. My step count has been much lower on snow days and I didn’t like that. On days when my stepcount is low, I am usually more unproductive and I don’t like the way I feel about myself. 

Today my husband and I were at Best Buy and purchased a FitBit. They didn’t sell any chargers by themselves but I can order one online. I’m glad my husband got a FitBit so I can borrow his charger for my FitBit until I get mine replaced. We can motivate each other by comparing step counts. It’s more fun to work out with someone who shares goals, too.

My FitBit was a gift from my sister for Christmas. It is a wonderful way to focus on moving around more and increasing aerobic activity. Thanks to her, I’m on my way to a healthier version of ME!


March 16

Walk a Lap

March Slice Challenge #15

By the start of Block 4/8 today, I had a bad headache. I was tired from the weekend and from using my brain so much for the first 3 blocks of the day. So I decided that if our class behaved for the first 20 minute assignment, then we could go outside and get some fresh air. Thankfully, everyone was on task and we lined up to take a walk outdoors. It was sunny and bright. The air was cool with a slight breeze. The plan was to walk a brisk lap around the track to wake ourselves up and stretch our legs. I figured if I got the oxygen pumping, my headache would ease, too. The PE classes were using the track so we kept walking. 

We walked around the gym and side of the school. We paused for a minute at the beautiful memorial set up for Gavin Rupp and Nicole Abi-Naim. I explained to the students that Gavin was in my class when he was in sixth grade (2011-12). I didn’t know Nicole but I know she was also a student here at Eagle Ridge, so we paid our respects.

I think the memorial is a wonderful way to remember these students. It’s very difficult to think about how young Gavin and Nicole were when they left us, but seeing their memorial at school helps me remember what’s important in life. The quotes beneath their names are almost like them giving us advice and wisdom. Gavin’s quote reads, “There is no footprint too small to leave an imprint on this world.” How true! Our actions make a difference. I hope I am always careful to leave behind the kind of footprint that shows that I was kind and helpful to others. The idea of leaving behind footprints also reminds me of a quote I’ve heard before about leaving footprints on a person’s heart. Gavin Rupp definitely left footprints on my heart. I think of him often. I am glad I got the chance to know him and read his writing. He used his writing in class to share his love of baseball, friends, and family. Gavin, you are missed.

Nicole’s stone has a quote that reads: “The only way to have a friend is to be one (Emerson).” I see that every day here in the middle school setting. I really like it when I witness students being friendly to each other even if they don’t hang out with them out20150316_143305side of school or sit with them at lunch. You can still be kind and respectful and friendly to others even if you wouldn’t call them a close friend. I’m grateful that Nicole was that kind of person. I’ve talked to teachers here that knew her and they said she embodied that quote.

I timed our walk and the entire time we spent outdoors was about 10 minutes. It definitely helped lessen my headache, and it energized our class. We were able to grab a quick drink of water at the fountain and continue drafting, revising, and editing our research papers. Most importantly, our walk gave me the chance to remember some special students.

Thank you for the walk Block 4/8 and I hope we can do this again sometime. 


March 15

Random Parking Lot Finds

random sock in school parking lot

random sock in school parking lot

March Slice Challenge #14

I always come across the most random items when I walk across our school’s parking lot to get to my car at the end of each day. Today’s find was a lone sock. I always wonder how such random items appear in the parking lot. I imagine the story behind the item and try to picture the person who lost it. I always have the urge to put up a FOUND sign. Instead of a MISSING poster, I would advertise the object that I found, where I found it, and maybe if the item was truly missed, a reward would be offered. Just kidding about the reward part. 

But I do feel bad when people lose items because you never know if that item was a person’s favorite or maybe it was sentimental. Every parking lot should have a giant Lost and Found where good samaritans could drop any items like this. 

As for this blue sock, maybe someone reading this will recognize it, realize where they left it, and claim it. The sock and sockless owner will be reunited. 

One last thought…maybe the dryer doesn’t eat socks after all…maybe we just end up losing our socks mysteriously…in parking lots. 


March 13

Pi Day of the Century

March Slice Challenge #13


student T-shirts made in math class

Many students have worn some interesting T-shirts today to Language Arts class. When I asked them why, they said the reason was that they were celebrating Pi-Day in math class.

I thought I would write about Pi-Day and since that’s a non fiction topic, I needed to think of a way to organize the information. Should I use chronological order, compare/contrast, cause/effect, problem/solution, sequence, or definition/description?

Here are some different ways we could organize this information.


Cause and Effect – The event or cause was Pi Day so the effect would be students coming into class wearing Pi-Day shirts.

Definition and Description – Define Pi Day and then describe all of the different ways people celebrated it. For example, in math class, we decorated T-shirts, learned about pi, and brought in circular food.

Problem and Solution – Someone invented Pi as a way to figure out the circumference of a circle. The problem is not knowing the circumference (the distance around a circle) and the solution is to multiply the diameter by Pi (3.14…….) Pi can also be used to find the area of a circle. 

Compare/Contrast: Compare Pi Day to another day in math class 

 Pi Day Shirts