Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fort Worth Nature Center

Nature Walk ... searching for leaves ...
One of my MOST favorite places in North Texas is the Fort Worth Nature Center. I love taking my journal to the Nature Center and write ... but today, I went to the Hardwicke Interpretive Center to do a program with The Life of Bud.

Thank you to all the parents and children that came out today! I read The Life of Bud and then we went on a Nature Walk around the Interpretive Center -- the children collected leaves, twigs, and rocks that were on the ground that they could use in their Seasons Book.
Aaron and his daughter -- so adorable! She found a LOT of acorns!
Lilly found a heart shaped leaf (from the Redbud Tree)
she also wondered if some insects had taken bites from the middle?
Lilla found this leave still on the tree with obvious insect bites!

Daniel found leaves with wasp eggs on them!

 Caroline and her finds ....

Aaron and his daughter ... she was getting tired.
Back inside!!!  Book making at its BEST!

Click on the link to be directed to the Nature Center's FB page
Please come out to the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge's ANNUAL
Saturday, October 4, 2014
10 am - 2 pm
I will be there with many other VENDORS & the LAKE WORTH MONSTER!!!!!!!!
Here's a few more pictures  ...
Before we went on our Nature Walk we had a visit from the Nature Center's resident OPOSSUM
AND ... A site I never thought I would see .... a Mother Scorpion and her babies ...
She was caught in the foundry on the property and kept inside so people could see her and her babies up close and personal
and were going to be released back into the wild at the end of the day!
CREEPY and COOL!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Go Fund Me

A Book in Every Child's Hand

I LOVE books ... I was fortunate to have many books at home and a library a few blocks away from my house when I was little. I loved walking there with my sister and a few friends when we were little and bring home TONS of books! And ... when we would get the Scholastic Book Order ... I would beg my mom to get me a book! Usually, she would give-in and let me get one or two!

Some kids are not that lucky! I have started a Go Fund Me project to raise money to get books into the hands of kids that don't have books. Please share this post and if you can ... please donate ... click on the links in this post to help out!  THANKS!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Expeditionary Learning -

Ron Berger and Yours Truly!
When I started my teaching career with my special ed preschoolers with their peer mentors, I knew I had finally was in the place I was meant to be and doing what I was meant do in life -- TEACH. Those children taught me so much about myself and I with the peer modeling I saw children working together at it's BEST! After that year I transitioned to 3rd grade and then onto Kindergarten.   In each position, I had my children collaborating, drafting and revising, asking questions, reflecting, writing, writing, and WRITING, and critiquing each other's work -- little did I know that I was using parts of Expeditionary Learning -- which always just felt THE RIGHT WAY TO TEACH to me! Some of my peers would say -- "your class is the one with kids moving around, working in groups, and talking a lot."  So at times I thought maybe I was doing something wrong. But I saw kids excited and passionate about what we were learning. I personally never enjoyed sitting doing worksheets all day long and I knew that kids learn in all different ways. So I naturally taught that way!

When I was hired at Manara Academy, I immediately felt at home. All of the things I was doing were validated ... and there's so much more to make children's learning experience even more meaningful. Today, our Irving crew and Arlington crew came together and were in workshops with the chief academic officer for Expeditionary Learning -- RON BERGER! He's phenomenal and the children that had him for a teacher are extremely lucky! We were extremely lucky to have him share his knowledge and expertise with us!

Ron, along with our new School Designer - Rayna did an amazing job! Rayna gave us many incredible ideas for the self-managed classroom and I'll share some of my classroom experiences with that this year. Ron walked us through a great discussion on peer critiquing children's writing. We also saw more, in depth, on how to work through revisions to make children's work high quality. I will also share with you what that looks like this year as well.

I purchased this book, written by Ron Berger, at the beginning of last school year and have read it cover to cover and will re-read it again as I go through this year to re-visit some of the strategies.
Book is available at
I was honored to have Ron Berger autograph this book for me .... I truly didn't know if I would ever meet him or have this chance -- so it really was a pretty exciting thing!
Ron Berger signing my book! Yes - the author in me was excited
the teacher in me was ecstatic!

If you are a teacher and are not in an Expeditionary Learning (EL) school, but are interested in learning a little about EL -- this book is a great reference tool.
It truly explains how to get students excited to take responsibility for their own learning.
This week of professional development went by so quickly. I know I am going to implement a few new strategies into my classroom to make the children even more engaged and excited to learn!
So excited to have the new kiddos start next Wednesday, August 20!
Ron Berger and I and possibly an AURA from Sofia A.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Writing M O D E

What is that EXACTLY?

In several interviews and even at events, people ask me "how do I write?" I know I put thoughts down in my journal and sooner or later I may get more ideas and then I add to those thoughts and so on until I get a burst and it's a book! Many of my friends set time aside each day and write a set amount of words. I simply cannot do that, I've tried and it's an epic failure!  I do write almost every day -- but it is quick thoughts or notes or ideas in my writing journal ... I may even write a complete story -- but it most likely will never turn into a book. I think it might be because I like pen and paper more so than a computer and so writing with the flow of a pen relaxes me -- staring at a screen intimidates me!

Well ... I was VERY aware of my burst of writing the other day and I believe it's because so many people have asked me about it. I have been working on a story start - Red Goes To Kindergarten for many years -- probably 5 or 6 years. Red's been down some strange paths ... But on Friday afternoon/evening/night I went into WRITING MODE ....

I grabbed my journal and furiously wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote ... you get the idea. I then tried to rest, but my mind was chock full of pictures and how the story was developing and what else could be added and word choices were popping up ... so resting / sleeping was NOT an option. This girls brain was on overdrive. I got up and pulled up the VERY rough story start of Red on my computer. Actually, I had to drag out my external hard drive and load up Red. I opened up the journal and started reworking the story. And reworking the story and reworking the words and the flow and the rhythm. It was getting light out and I now knew that sleep was NOT an option.  I had the story close to complete so I saved it--for the zillionth time to both hard drive and external drive and closed the computer.

I tried to rest for an hour or so, but my head still was "swirly" so I got back up, made some coffee and opened the file again. At that point, it's hard to fix typos, or comma mistakes ... but I grappled with some more word choices and finally at about 11:00 in the morning about 18 hours from when I started, I felt I needed readers!

Now, I have worked on stories before and then just close the computer and feel that NO ONE EVER needs to read them ... but I felt Red is one that I will be really proud to have children and adults read ... so -- I got a few readers and they helped me see a few things that 18 hours of Laura focusing didn't catch ... I fixed those things and reworked it a bit more ... I always change it up a bit after people READ it!  There needs to be some element of surprise when they read the finished copy! I contacted my publisher and the Director of Mktg emailed me back, thrilled I completed my 5th book and was excited to read it and I will be sending it off early this week.

Now ... about that "swirly" head ... I was never totally aware of that before, but I consciously thought about it because people ask what happens when I write, or how do I write -- but I know that it always happens ... I feel restless, fatigued, headachy, nervous, excited, I see illustrations (that I know I could never draw), I see each page of the story, I hear the words in my head, I can't concentrate on anything else, it's hard to eat and sleep ... Steven says it must be like I'm coming down off some creative energy flow ... I do know that I feel that way for a few days and Red will be about all I can think about for the next few days.

This is what a very tired, unshowered, very hungry, swirly headed, super excited author looks like!
I hope Red Goes To Kindergarten will be ready to release by mid-Summer, 2015 - just in time
for Back To School next year!
And ... I hope you will help me celebrate it's coming to be!