The Start of Me and You (SOL #30)

One more day to go! It’s been hard to find time to write while I’ve been on vacation – I usually forget until it’s right at the deadline.

Today, I finished a book called The Start of Me and You, a YA novel by Emery Lord. She is from my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, so I’ve been interested in reading her books. I love discovering local authors. I read her book When We Collided over the summer, and it was heartbreaking, but beautiful

The Start of Me and You reads like a typical teen drama – it takes places over the course of a school year, in which the main character, Paige, is still getting over the death of her boyfriend a year ago. She decides to make a list of things to do to help her get back to normal life.

The thing I love about this book, and what I think sets it apart from other teen novels, is that Lord’s characters are so strong and well-developed. They are complicated and messy, just like real people. She really gets to know these people whose story she tells, and they come alive.

Maybe I saw a bit of myself reflected in Paige, the main character, and my high-school self would have been jealous of her tight-knit friend group. This book is definitely more about character development and personal reflection than exciting plot lines. I have found that I am drawn to these kinds of stories.

I am going to get a copy of this book for my 8th grade classroom – it’s tame enough for middle school, but also has enough drama to keep their interest. I’m looking forward to reading more of Emery Lord’s books!


Mole Crickets (SOL #28)

Have you ever heard of mole crickets? I hadn’t before yesterday. While my husband and I were at my brother’s house in Florida, my sister-in-law told us that one day she found her dog barking at something strange on the back porch. She went out to investigate, and found this:

A mole cricket, she later discovered it was called. She said that she covered it up with a plastic cup before getting it out of the yard. 

I had never heard of these before, and my husband and I found them really creepy. Being from Ohio, we had no idea what they are. Florida has some strange creatures. 

I’m just hoping that we don’t encounter any during the rest of our stay!

Florida (SOL #27)

This morning, I flew from Cincinnati, OH to Jacksonville, FL on Allegiant Airlines. Normally when I fly Allegiant, there are many delays, we board late, and it’s not always the best experience. But as a discount airline, you get what you pay for, and that’s fine with me. I’ll take a few hiccups for a cheaper flight.

Today, however, everything went well. We boarded on time (6:30 a.m.), and even though we got on with zone 5, I was able to get my carry-on in the overhead compartment easily. The flight took off on time, and landed on time – it was a Spring Break miracle!

My husband and I are now in Florida visiting my brother, sister-in-law, and niece, as well as his mom’s extended family. I’m glad I get to spend Spring Break with my family in Florida, and relax a little bit from schoolwork. I brought some grading along with me, but it might just wait until I get back. I need a little extra time to pause and recharge, to read and spend some time with loved ones.

Books for Babies (SOL #26)

Tomorrow, I get to go visit my niece in Florida. She is only two months old, but I am already supplying her with lots of books. I’m bringing three of them with me tomorrow.

Rosie Revere, Engineer – This is an adorable story about a little girl named Rosie who wants to be an engineer, but she is discouraged when one of her inventions gets laughed at. Then her great aunt Rose, who worked during WWII, comes to visit and inspires her to keep creating and designing new inventions. Great aunt Rose teaches her that even if she fails, it’s okay! I love that I will get to share this story with my niece (even if she can’t understand it yet)!


Ellie – I got this book because my niece’s name is Ellie, and it’s about a little elephant named Ellie who tries to find her own special talent. She ends up using her trunk to paint pictures, and everyone comes to love her artwork. My sister-in-law has decorated Ellie’s room with elephants, so it fits perfectly!


Bunny Roo, I Love You – I found this one on sale at a local bookstore, and the drawings were so beautiful that I had to get it. I know my sister-in-law will love it too. It’s a cute little story about about a mom whose baby mimics different animals, until she finally sees her baby just for who she is.


I’m excited to share these stories with my niece, and many, many more as she continues to grow up!


Power of the Pen (SOL #25)

I love coaching Power of the Pen. It’s always fun to spend a Saturday with a group of students who are excited about writing and who get to try their best to compete with other writers in the area.

Today my team competed at Chillicothe Middle School in the Regional Tournament, and after this one, they only have the State Competition left if they qualify. We know we will have at least two of our writers moving on, since they placed 1st and 3rd individually!

The day is always a little crazy because students do three rounds of 40 minute writing sessions, during which they have to follow a prompt – given at the beginning of the round. For each round, I act as a judge in in one of the writing rooms. I am always impressed by how much effort these kids put into their writing, and how much talent I get to see on competition days.

Overall, my 8th grade writers did a fantastic job during today’s tournament – they ended up placing 3rd as a team, with the two who placed 1st and 3rd in individual awards. One of my students even wrote a story based on something that we talked about in class, which made me feel proud. Last week, I showed them a John Green video in which he argues about why we should get rid of pennies in the United States. She took what she learned in that video and turned it into a response to the prompt “Create an acronym for a protest of your own making” – and she did No More Pennies (NMP). I laughed as I read it.

We also have a lot of parents who come to support their children during the award ceremony, and it’s so nice to have them there. They are kind and really appreciate the work we do, and the kids love seeing them there too.

All around, we had a great day!

Forgetfulness (SOL #24)

Today is going to be a 2-for-1 day – as long as I remember to post later today! 

Yesterday was the last day of school before Spring Break, so my mind went into shut down mode. I completely forgot my slice. Sometimes we forget things, but it’s okay. 

I was planning on writing about how I reorganized my classroom library and trying a new system. I got rid of most of my bins because I’ve found that my middle schoolers really like being able to see all of the spines instead of having to dig through bins, especially ones that are a little high up. I’m hoping this results in more kids finding more books!

How do you organize your classroom library?

Here’s my new setup: