Motivated {Celebrating}

February 8, 2014

I am joining in celebrating big and little accomplishments throughout the week at Ruth Ayres Writes.


I am using a new notebook to help organize my to do lists. I LOVE placing a line through accomplished tasks. Eleanor Roosevelt is one of my heros, so the cover was quite fitting!


Yesterday I wrote that I conquered my writing monster this week. I have a two page outline for a presentation March 1 on finding craft in the books you love. I just needed to get over the blank page. I am really excited now! When one snow day turns into three, I choose to be proactive and positive!


First Win:
Basketball has been a stretching experience for our freshman, Tim. The team has lost every game. Varsity has only won one. Tough season. Tim had originally planned to help out his friend to have a freshman team. Only 13 boys decided to commit to the team- total for varsity and JV. I have driven many miles to get him to practice, even on snow days. Their dedication paid off! They won last night! An exciting game for a proud mom!



Write {Five Minute Friday}

February 6, 2014

Today’s prompt: Write.
Write. It’s good for you, my friend, Ruth Ayres shares, believes, practices.
Her encouraging voice whispers in my head. I can see Elsie, Linda, Christy and my BONS nodding in agreement. Those words sweep away the nagging writing monster in my head quipping, “Your writing isn’t eloquent, not worthy.” Ugh! I hate the fact that I allow that thought to linger, a fight I have often.

But today, the monster is crushed.
Today, the thoughts that have been swirling in my head are being captured by a pen.
Today I write …
and it feels good!


I am participating in Five Minute Friday hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker. Will you join me?


SOLC: First Grade Inspiration

January 17, 2012

Yesterday, I spent time in a first grade writing class. They were discussing revision strategies. Yes, at first grade. Revision is delightful, although it’s not always as elaborate as we might be thinking.

One student I conferred with was writing about football. He had written, “One afternoon, I played football.” I asked him what his purpose was for writing this piece. Jay said, “It was a great game. We won.” He had definite purpose.

We talked about how the action in the story could help share his purpose along with the illustration he had. I left and Jay busied himself with writing. When I checked back with him, he had written, “We played in the field. We won a trophy.” I then noticed a star between the last two sentences. I asked about the star. “I forgot to add in that he (pointing to his picture) threw the ball to me and I caught it.”

A large smile spread across his face. He was inspired and thrilled with his work. I was thrilled that my conferring had inspired him.

SOL: AllWrite!!! Summer Institute

June 21, 2011

Inspiring! Uplifting! Encouraging! Three words to describe the past two days at AllWrite!!! Summer Institute.

Katie Wood Ray shared her passion for books and encouraged us to keep reading. Debbie Miller share her thinking in giving students choice in books. Terry Thompson shared how graphic novels can increase comprehension. Ruth Ayres shared her writing lessons from a special swim instructor, Nate, which touched my heart to tears. And, Gordon Korman shared how time to write allowed him to create his first novel – in seventh grade.  I am refreshed!

March Madness – Slice of Life for 31 days

April 1, 2011

This year, I have learned to be creative.

I explored poetry and found that I have some hiding in me.

I pushed to find stories, to create humor from the conversations I hear.

I learned from others.  Reading the slices refreshed my spirit. It lifted me from the negativism around me into a community of writers who were willing to risk, to reflect, to rejoice.

I am part of a larger community and have “met” many wonderful writer:

  • I used my notebook and collected ideas.
  • I recorded blog sites.
  • I commented on 87 different blog sites (not counting the students who posted). :)

This year, I grew as a writer.

SOL 15: Trickles

March 15, 2011





Sometimes they go


Sometimes they seem to sputter

out like an old jallopy


excite my thinking

Reading posts ignite a spark

creating images

on paper

Slice of Life fuels my writing

to think,

to create,

to write.

SOL 13: Sunday Afternoon (yawn)

March 13, 2011

1:57 p.m.

Nothing like a restful Sunday afternoon to refresh my soul. (yawn)

Time to grab my notebook, pen, and pick my favorite spot to write. (yawn)

I love snuggling (yawn) with my favorite lap blanket (yawn) in my cozy chair. (yawn)

An added bonus is Kip, my cat, (yawn, yawn) who curls delightfully on (yawn) my lap, (yawn)

contentedly, peacefully, (yawn, yawwwwn), purring…………

4:03 p.m. (eyes open, yawn, stretch)

Ahhh – the nap was superb.

Back to writing.

(True story :))

Winter Books

February 5, 2011

Throughout my blogging days, I have posted books about the current season or holiday.  I have listed all my books (hopefully) that I have posted in the index.  I highly recommend perusing it to see if a title stands out.

Below are a few books about winter that I have blogged about.  Enjoy!

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner

Snow Ponies by Jason Cockcroft (a favorite of mine!)

Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Samms II and Jean Stoick.

Library Mouse

July 14, 2010

What an adorable book Library Mouse is!  I loved it!  The book is a great read aloud that links reading and writing and the love of literacy.  Daniel Kirk shows children a simple yet fun way to enjoy the library.

Library Mouse

Sam the mouse lived in a library.  He would sleep during the day, but when the library closed, his exploration began.  Sam would read book after book after book.  His mind was filled with fun adventures.  Sam enjoyed the children’s reference section the best, my favorite.

…he thought life was very good indeed.”

Sam begins to write his own books, and slips each onto the bookshelf.  As children read his books, they are curious and want to meet the author.  Sam is rather shy, and he creates a fun way for each child to meet the author.  He places a mirror in the box.  As children look in, they realize they are an author and begin to write books themselves.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Library Mouse:

  • Types and genres of books – biographies, fairy tales, cookbooks, mysteries
  • Visualizing – a mural of scenes from books Sam has read “his imagination brimmed over with wonder and fantasy
  • Setting Lead that leads into a One Day moment – begins in the library and then, “One night Sam decided …”
  • Ideas – write what you know; inspiring children to write
  • Predictable Structure – time of day, “sunlight streamed through the windows“;child finds his book and show it to the librarian; book is read and liked; Sam writes a new book.

Class Book Idea:

  • Take a picture of each child in your class holding their finished published piece.  Each child can write an ‘about the author’ page.  Make a class book of “Mrs. Gensch’s Authors”
  • Beginning of the year – take a picture of each child with notebooks in their hand.  Maybe take a picture of their favorite idea page and make the idea pages into a class book to place in the writing center.
  • You could take pictures of the children working on pieces throughout the writing process.  A class book could be made of the writing process for the class to refer to.  They could make if for a younger grade level as well.  Title it ‘Writer’s Workshop’.
  • This same idea could be used for Reader’s Workshop.  Visuals help the children to be focused.

Slice of Life: Reflections from a Writer

March 31, 2010

Over the course of this March month, I have been reflecting on my writing more than I have in a while.  I appreciated this slice of life challenge, as I have learned much about being a writer. Thank you, Ruth and Stacey, for hosting the challenge.  I needed a boost.

Some thoughts from me, the writer:

I have more empathy for students with writer’s block.

  • I remember on day ten sitting down at the computer and feeling like I had nothing to write about.  An idea would come to mind, and I would think, “I already wrote about that.”  Another idea would come and I wondered, “How do I start?”  The empty screen was a bit overwhelming.  I actually chuckled because I could visualize students having the same struggle or hearing “I don’t know what to write about.”

I have learned to press on even when my mind is being critical of what I’m writing.

  • I would begin to write something and think, “That doesn’t sound very exciting.  You need to change your wording.”  I often was almost fearful of writing because I didn’t have enough time to revise and play with my thoughts.  I didn’t want anyone to think that I wasn’t a good writer.  I was worried that the posts would be boring to my readers.  Now, although I still have those thoughts creeping in, I’ve learned to push them away and write.  If I don’t write, how will I ever improve?  Besides many of the slices were for me, capturing a memory for forever.

I have learned that audience does help motivate the writer.

  • I appreciated everyone who commented about my posts.  The encouragement helped fuel me.  With a deeper understanding, I see how sharing helps children to energize with their writing.   I can make kids famous, but the act of sharing their work with someone empowers them to be more independent and driven.

I have learned that it’s okay to read something to get an idea to write about.

  • I practice using books to springboard ideas for writing, but through this SOL Challenge, I have learned that I connect with others through reading their posts.  I form an opinion or agreement with the writing that spurs my own writing.  I see the importance of allowing children to ask their friends what they are writing about and listen to them to gain ideas.  Sometimes you need to write about the same topic.  It’s the act of writing that is the most important.  Ideas will come.

I have learned that if I want to write, I must make it a priority.

  • I have struggled with making time for writing.  I enjoy doing it, but with the demands of three children and a full-time job, time is precious.  I used the challenge as an excuse, “I have to post before I go to bed.  It’s my turn to use the computer.”  My family supported me in my efforts.  Now, I must continue to carve out time – intentionally – to write.  How else am I going to improve?

I have learned to be more in tune with my observations and surroundings.

  • Because I was looking for something to write about each day, I found the idea.  I noticed things happening around me that I would not have thought to write about.  The baseball banter was one example.  I hadn’t thought about the words being poetic, but now I can’t help but notice.  I can teach my students to notice more by sharing my SOL posts.

I have learned that I can write poetry.

  • Poetry is not my favorite genre.  I find it hard to rhyme and make the writing sound like music.  I pushed myself through the SOL Challenge and tried free verse poetry.  I like it.  I like that I can take phrases and play with them to make a poem.  I have a better grasp on how to teach it to my students and show them how to create poetry.

I have learned that even tough subjects can be written about.

  • I posted a difficult experience that my daughter went through.  The appointment had been set for almost two weeks and my mind had been on it.  I wanted to share my feelings yet would back away; my thoughts were too real.  By writing, I found the good in the experience.  I will remember the specialness because of capturing it through the written word.  I can help children to see that writing doesn’t always have to be about a pleasant topic.  Writing can be therapy too.

I have learned that I feel closer to my family and friends through writing.

  • By writing, I expose myself even more.  I can explain some thoughts clearer through the written word than through talking.  I can grasp ideas and share something special with my family and friends.  I have learned that several teachers are willing to write a special memory after reading mine.  Because my writing is not lofty and actually rather practical, they feel like they can write too.

I have learned that I am a better writer by reading others writings.

  • I would read different posts and would see phrasing that I liked.  I would fall in love with certain word structure and visual pictures the authors would use.  I would then try it in my own writing.  Writing and reading is like practicing for a sport or musical instrument – the more you practice, the more tricks you can learn.

I have learned much by writing daily for the Slice of Life Challenge.  I must continue to learn by practicing the skill frequently.  I am a writer.


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