I've Got Writes!

Teacher, Writer, Proofreader

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”

Successful Prediction Discussion


Last week, I got my students pumped up about the book with my prediction board! I had the board turned against the wall, propped up on a desk so they couldn’t see it until I turned it around. I gave them the run-down of what we were going to do. Then, I teased them a little, like, “Are you ready to see it? Are you sure?”

So, here’s how it went:

  • Students were instructed to stay quiet for a minute, or until I made my way around the entire room with the board.
  • They were to look closely, at all of the objects and pictures and read all of the words carefully.
  • After I made it slowly around the room, I asked if there were any words that they weren’t familiar with or didn’t know how to pronounce. I first let other students give the meanings if they knew them. If not, I explained what the words meant.
    • Usually, they need me to clarify the words “sorrow” and “loyal.”
    • Since I added “PTSD” to my new board, I had to give a brief explanation of what it stands for and what it is.
    • I was able to include a personal story about my grandpa who is a 92 year-old WWII veteran and still suffers from nightmares and other symptoms of PTSD.
  • After clarifying a few words, I gave them 3 or 4 minutes to have a discussion with their partners (or in a triad) about what they thought would happen in the story, based upon the information on the prediction board.
    • I gave them a sentence starter stem, like, “According to  _______ on the prediction board, I predict the story will be about . . .
    • Or, “Based upon the ______ on the prediction board, I predict …
  • I perused the room and listened in on the predictions. At that point, when they asked me questions about the book, my go-to response was, “I don’t know, but that’s a great question.”
  • When time was up, we stood and delivered our predictions, making sure to use the sentence starters. I took volunteers first, then I cold called (drew popsicle sticks.)
  • An exit ticket was a quick way to wrap up. The next day, we wrote a draft of a prediction paragraph, did some peer editing, and rewrote the final copy to be turned in.

I went ahead and asked my principal to come in and observe for my evaluation on prediction day because I knew the kids would be engaged more than usual. She loved it! She said it was fun and it made her want to read the book, too.

One of our more challenging students went up to her at lunch and told her how much he “loves this book!” That was something that she never thought she’d hear coming from this particular student. Me neither, but it happens every year. That’s one of the reasons I get excited about reading a novel with my students, especially this one.

The Mailbox by Audrey Shafer

Previous posts about using this novel in my class.

What I use to Engage Students Before Reading a Novel

The Mailbox Prep

Writing Prompt Day 6: Something You Were Proud of in the Last Few Days


Rampant Apathy and Learned Helplessness

Twelve years ago in central Oklahoma, I began my teaching career in middle school in an area infested with gangs. I’ve probably learned boatloads more than I’ve taught. I’ve had roughly 1200 students pass through my classroom door. (Would’ve been more, but I looped with a group of kids through their middle school years.) I’ve witnessed and experienced a lot of sadness, joy, apathy, excitement, fear, fury, bat-shit craziness, “you can’t fix stupid,” and straight-up “I can’t make this shit up!” Any educator should know exactly what I’m talking about.

Which brings me to today. This school year with sixth graders. I have many hard-working, creative, and well-mannered kiddos for whom I’m grateful. It’s the “others” that are a problem. A problem not just for me because they’re in my class and make me question why the hell I did this to myself, but a problem for you and everyone else in society who will have to deal with their “idiosyncrasies.”

All kids are self-centered and think the world revolves around them and think the world owes them something and think that every adult in their presence is a complete idiot. It’s the age. It’s normal. Irritating as hell, but normal. We all did it to some extent.

Here comes the “but” …

BUT, THIS GROUP! Holy freakin’ cow! The apathy, the learned helplessness, the unwillingness to participate in any way in their own learning is ABSOLUTELY ASTOUNDING! I’m truly frightened for anyone who has to deal with them as adults. I can only pray and hope that somewhere along the line, someone will be able to connect with them and motivate them toward excellence, or some semblance of it, at least.


Writing Prompt Day 7: My Hopes and Dreams

Well, this is a little overwhelming. I’ve got lots of hopes and dreams.

  • I dream of my degree actually paying off. Of paying off debt that I’ve accrued from living paycheck to paycheck on an Oklahoma teacher’s salary.
  • I dream of getting my freelance writing/editing/proofreading business off the ground to, at the very least, supplement my teacher pay.
  • I dream of traveling the U.S. and any place where I can bury my toes in the sand, listen to the waves, and enjoy the mood-lifting sunshine.
  • I dream of loving and being loved by a man who brings out the best in me. I want a relationship in which we encourage, challenge, and support each other; in which we are better people together than we are apart. I dream of having authentic, honest communication with him. I’ve waited long enough to know who I am, know what I’m worth, and know what I have to offer. I don’t say these things lightly or arrogantly. Anybody who really knows me, knows that to be true.
  • I hope that my family and friends know how much I love, need, and appreciate them.
  • I hope that others see me as a caring, grateful person.

That’s all I can come up with for this sitting. What are your hopes and dreams? Share them in the comment section! 🙂


30 Days of Writing Prompts: Day 1

I’ve been inspired by getadatein2016 who happens to be participating in this writing challenge, so I thought I would follow suit. I’m starting late but at least I’m starting. I frequently come across these challenges on Facebook or Pinterest and promise myself I’ll get into writing gear again. Inevitably, scrolling and pinning keeps me from the actual writing part. Ugh. I’m my own worst nightmare.

Anyway, maybe with the continued reminders in my inbox–thank you, getadatein2016–I’ll stick to it. I need to write several today and tomorrow in order to catch up, so let’s get crackin’!

Prompt #1: Post a recent selfie and list 15 interesting facts about yourself. Hmmmmm, this could take a while.


  1. I’m not compulsively late, per se, but I live mostly in the “-ish” time frame. So if something starts at 7:00, being there at 7-ish could mean 10 ’til or 15 after.
  2. Which brings me to the fact that I’m NOT a morning person. I’ve been accused of speaking Wookiee in the mornings.
  3. I’ve been to Ecuador 3 times visiting my former exchange student/daughter and her family. (One of the best decisions of my life.)
  4. I live in Oklahoma but desperately want to live near a beautiful beach.
  5. I panic in deep water because my swimming skills are lacking.
  6. I hate winter. I hate when the sun goes down at 5:30 PM. I hate cold. (It was 3 degrees farenheit this morning–another reason to stay in bed.)
  7. I’ve been a middle school English teacher for 11 years. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I need to figure it out because this teacher pay SUCKS!
  8. I’m Dory when it comes to projects. If it’s not something that can be finished quickly, I get bored or frustrated and move on to the next one. The end result always looks better in my head than in reality.
  9. I’m known for my grammar skills. I edit and proofread much better than I write.
  10. I’ve learned to embrace change as I’ve gotten older, though it’s not always easy. Change causes you to grow in ways that you never expected. You get to see what you’re truly made of.
  11. I don’t subscribe to Netflix or dish or cable. Just regular ‘ole tv stations. (Did I mention I’m a teacher?)
  12. My favorite 80s movie is The Princess Bride–“As you wish …”
  13. I’m in my 40s, never been married, and won’t be having any little humans. It’s ok. And, NO, there’s nothing wrong with me. (I would like to find the right man and spend the rest of my life with him.)
  14. I know bits and pieces of Spanish. Wish I were fluent.
  15. I want to travel to Europe, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and any place with beautiful beaches.

Ok, there you have it. Day one writing prompt complete! Score!

New Guest Posts


So, in an attempt to make my blog more interesting, I’m adding guest bloggers to the mix! The first sucker, I mean, visiting wordsmith happens to be my cousin, Justin, who will entertain you with his ponderings of generation gaps and adulting. Keep your Webster’s close because you just might learn a new word or two while reading “Ersatz Inspiration”.

Also, if you happened to miss my last post about saying, “So long!” to Tinder and all of its high-classed scammers, check it out here! Enjoy!


Trichotillomania: My Story

I admire Sarah McCormick’s transparency in this post. Everyone has a story that can encourage someone else, letting them know that they’re not alone and that there’s hope. 

Post Navigation