Thursday, May 31, 2007

Spring Nostalgia...

Okay, first of all Fort Wayne Indiana,currently feels like the dead of summer. Recently it has been 85-90 degrees and humid. More like July than the end of May. The spring though brings back so many memories and so I thought I would share one that is on the fringe of my memory.

It is a beautiful warm morning. My parents have just driven away from hills that create the backdrop of Northeastern Pennsylvania, back to Indiana and I look at the man that I am going to spend an entire week following around. I wonder if we will make it, I wonder if my cousins will come and rescue me? He looks at me and says, "let's get you settled in." My grandfather walks me up the path followed by a furry, energetic, and loyal friend with a white tail. Taffy, a small dog, but as loyal as a dog can be. I enter the house of my grandfather's and my step-grandmother is there to greet me, "Sarah, so glad you are here for a visit! Would you like a brownie?" Would I like a brownie? This is like asking if the sun is bright or if birds can fly. These brownies fill the entire house, their aroma draws you to them and makes you want to sit for a spell and share your darkest secrets. Do I want a brownie?
For the next several days we relax into a routine. We rise early and eat breakfast at the round kitchen table with the 1950's cotton tablecloth. I run my finger over the crease from where it was folded after being hung out on the line. I eat my shredded wheat while my grandfather pours over the morning paper and mentions tidbits to his wife over their morning coffee. We run errands, go shopping, or piddle in the garage fixing "things." My favorite morning of all, the day my visit was arranged for, is the day we plant my grandfather's garden. I follow him around like a shadow, asking questions, taking orders, and getting dirty. I wear a burlap bag that he has fashioned for me to carry this year's onion crop. He walks along the rows while I put each onion bulb in the dirt and then press them down. With each bulb I make a wish and ponder about what they will become. This is the dirtiest, smelliest, and most delightful work I have ever done. This is a day that has not past idly by, I have worked and toiled and created a forever memory.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

4 New x 2 To You...

So I went blogging and found, somewhere, not sure where a woman who created a different sort of Meme and thought it sounded like fun! Ah, paybacks...
Here are the rules:

My new meme is called "4 New x 2". You have to share four things that were new to you in the past four years. I mean four things you learned or experienced or explored for the first time in the past four years. New house, new school, new hobby, new spouse, new baby, whatever. Then you have to say four things you want to try new in the next four years.

Four things in the past:
1. New House
2. New dog
3. Teaching first grade (and loving just about every minute)
4. New mini-van

Four things I want to do in the future:
1. Writing more poetry.
2. Independent Reader's Workshop
3. Start and perhaps finish my masters program (I cannot believe that I am voicing that out loud).
4. Be a certain size that I have been working at and seems attainable. (Mostly I just want to be heart healthy for my girls, the weight loss is just a benefit.)

There you have it, now I have to tag 4 blogging buddies.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I have been tagged!

Here are the eight things about me that not a lot of people know.

1. I play the piano nightly, not well but I play it just to relax.
2. I am not very social in new settings. They actually scare the dickens out of me.
3. I go on petfinder daily and see what kind of dogs are at pet rescues. I don't know why?
4. I didn't do very well on my SATs and had to take the ACTs. (I did pretty good on those)
5. I too would have tattoos everywhere if I could and a nose ring.
6. Growing up I had a cat named Simon and a dog named Garfunkel growing up.
7. I love all thing nostalgic, gardening, tea parties, old pictures, antiques.
8. I always wanted to take dance classes and gymnastics but was too afraid to ask my mom.

Well, there you have it. Me in a nutshell.


Most of the teachers that I know have read or are currently reading Mosaic of Thought by Ellin Keene and Susan Zimmerman. This book has revolutionalized my approach to the way that I teach Reading comprehension. Because of this book I am going to another school to see a teacher model one of the strategies of comprehension. Did I mention that I am so excited? I am consumed with all that I can scrounge up here and there about the seven strategies of comprehension. I am excited to implement the kind of talk that is going to help my students progress with their reading strategies. Did I mention that I am soooo excited?

This statement, "Did I mention that I am soooo excited?" I was wondering if my students ever say this statement about their learning? I got to asking myself, "why are you so excited?" What is the mystery behind my excitement? It is because I have discovered an answer to a problem. I didn't say that it was the answer but I am willing to give it a whirl.

How can I create this in my classroom? How can I help my students problem solve when they come to text that is hard to infer? How can I create the excitement that resonates throughout the year and keeps them coming back for more? These are the questions that I am pondering.

Did I mention that I was sooooo excited?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The One Who Calls Me Mama

I am always amazed that my four year-old still calls me, "Mama." It is so endearing and I don't want to forget how this makes me feel. I tried to capture parts of her in this poem.

The One Who Calls Me Mama
by Sarah Amick
Says her best friend is a
dog named, Millie;
Wants to ride the bus like her sister,
is scared of bugs;
Sings along to songs like Van Morrison's
"You are my brown-eyed girl."
Lip syncs to songs in public,
says things like,
"Birds love berries, and I love birds."
snuggles the most,
Loves to swing, surrounds herself with friends
and yet will be found alone, but not lonely;
Mama says, "My favorite Sydni in the whole wide world!"
I love you, too

Friday, May 25, 2007

Smell the Roses

So I found this new sight that has quotes for the day. Here is the link: and the May 1, 2007 post inspired this poem.

A Single Moment
by Sarah Amick
My world is filled with single moments
I see them everyday...
the wind as it lit my face while pushing my grocery cart.
White socks, a Sunday morning paper,
and a cup of Joe;
the giggles after the tickle monster, peek-a-boo,
and "getcha, getcha, getcha..."
Lilacs in the wind,
Catching lightning bugs for nightlights, racing snails,
and seeing if the pinch of a crawdad really hurts.
A Card from grandma,
the sound of snap peas, creaky rocking chairs,
and the youngest's version of "Twinkle, Twinkle Wittle Star,"
Laundry hung on the line;
An X-Large sweatshirt at a late fall football game, wooly mittens,
and marshmallows with cocoa,
Everyday I see them
Everywhere they come my

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Smells of Life...

A couple of friends lately have been reminding me about the way things smell. My husband says that I have a super sniffer. Sometimes this is a blessing and a curse. Here is a poem for the spirit of all things smelly.
Oh, I Love the Smell of...
by Sarah Amick
Breathe in the smell of rain
as the wind carries it in:
"smells like rain..."
Breathe in the nostalgic smells of a kitchen baking;
a grandmother humming, afterschool cookies,
and cakes for celebrations;
Breathe in a child
before the eyes of dawn appear
all snuggled under the covers of a restful night;
Imprint them in your memory.
Breathe in the awareness of the one you love
left on the garments as you gather them for the wash,
Take a moment and
breathe in...
Check out other smelly sights like:
They are very stinky!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Here's to the memories....

As you go about this next week, be conscious of activities that bring up memories. Grab a notebook or set up a file on your computer and start jotting them down. Go a bit deeper to capture those moments that linger on the fringe of your memories. Maybe you will remember parts of yourself that you had lost connection with, or pieces of your heart that are willing to stand up and have their story told.
by Ali Edwards
I must have skimmed by this quote on Ruth's post ( the first time. How powerful is the phrase, "pieces of your heart that are willing to stand up and have their story told." Sometimes we must grow in ourselves before that story is ready to be told.
Today a memory of my current first graders was burned into my heart. I will bring it back to my mind when I see them for years to come. It was a really simple moment, not really academic, even.
We went to recess at the end of the day. I have an incredible assistant who has grown children and she is very engaging. Let's face it, sometimes I'm jealous with the admiration my children show for her! Anyway, typical recess and I say, "do you all know London Bridges?" This is two-three students just standing around. So we start an oldie but goodie, before I know it my entire class, even the boys (I'll be sure to mention then when they bring their girlfriends to school to introduce them to me) are participating. We are laughing, the sun is shining, and there is nothing but pure joy on the faces of everyone. Pure joy, when was the last time you felt pure joy?
This is a memory, one that I will be able to call forth, one that my students will remember and hopefully cherish.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I came across this quote from Carol Avery in her book "And With A Light Touch"

"Trust is valuing the learner as a human being, as one who has much to give, much to demonstrate, much to teach others. Trust is esteeming the learner so that self-esteem is enhanced. Trust is believing that all children can learn to read and write and that all children strive continually to make sense of the world. A trusted individual becomes a risk taker, and to engage in learning is to engage in risk."

In our world of data driven education how much does trust play a role? I remember taking a course on brain compatible learning and trust was a key component in learning. Imagine an environment where everyone trusts one another and is taking a risk because learning is a risk.
Is your environment trustworthy?
Can your students trust you to be fair?
Will you esteem them today so that their self-esteem is built for tomorrow?
Are they ready to engage in the risk of learning?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Night Hen Party.....

Everyone I know knows that on Monday night I go to the "Hen Party." This is what we call it. Really it is just my mother, my children (ages 4 and 6), myself, my aunt, her daughter (age 14), and my grandmother (age 82) who join the hen party. We go to someone's home every Monday and drink coffee, eat dessert, and the best part of all: we talk. Like only women can do we have a gab fest. We sit and just enjoy the time of reconnection. Yep, it happens every Monday night. I got to thinking about the legacy this leaves upon my children. They have connected to a great-grandmother that they adore. They know how important it is for me (and them) to sit and confide in the people they can trust. If you don't have a "hen party" ,and you are female, find some friends that would carve out some time during the month, week, or even year. Unite with them in the camaraderie that is woman. You will truly be changed by them.
I am leaving a poem about my grandmother, enjoy:
Her Hands
by Sarah Amick
Her Hands, can you see them?
wrinkled, from years, dry from work;
Her Hands, wearing rings bought from places she has traveled:
Isreal, Europe, and Shipshewana.
Her Hands, can you see them?
feed the birds in the morning,
the birds have come to sing a warm spring song,
the Warblers sing tenor, while the housefinches sing soprano.
Her Hands, can you see them?
have raised seven children,
Her hands, wet from a thousand loads of dishes,
baby baths, and wiping away
the tears of weeping children;
Her Hands, clutching the handle of a new cane,
because... "I'm wobbly."
Her Hands, can you see them?
soft, warm, and holding us.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Poetry on Sunday....

The Path of Sweat
By Sarah Amick

Rush of the crowd,
Feel the adrenaline building.
The warm bodies perspire at the sound
of the bell.
The sweet smell of sweat appearing and
glistening on the evertiring men;
Then, droplets of it explode from the forcefulness of the blows.
Sweat on sweat as bodies collide in a wire cage;
Sweat falling on a well worn man,
Can you smell it?
Can you see that it's here?
The towel wipes the salty liquid from the
face flashed red, swollen, and battered.
The face is dripping sweat of uncertainty
it, the sweat, trickles slowly down the arm that is raised victorious.

Recently, because I love the roar of a crowd, I went to the LFC match. (This is like Ultimate fighting!!!!) After attending I was inspired to write this poem. It just goes to show that a poem can be written about anything. It truly was fun to go to this match and the friend I went to see won. We were all very pleased. Our waitress was a middle school teacher and a teacher who shall remain anonymous was there to watch someone very special to her. We all need to step out of our comfort zone and attend something totally unexpected. Who knows, it could inspire you to write poetry......

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Please read this website that I read on a blogspot: Sarah says.... She is a special education teacher from Indiana. Very cool blog Sarah, and very cool name. Anyway, here is the website:

After reading this I thought of my classroom this year and one of my students. This year I have had the pleasure of being the teacher to a remarkable young man who is brilliant, a great friend, has a wonderful working memory, and who is constantly under the scrutiny of others. Did I mention that this young man is completely blind?

I know, you are saying, "Oh, Sarah, what a tough job teaching 20 "normal" kids and then adding a child that is blind." Or, how about this one, "Oh, Sarah, why is he here in a regular room when he could be at the School for the Blind?" His parents I am sure have faced this their entire life, the pity and the sadness in people's voices when they find out their son is blind. I've only had to witness it for 9 incredible months. I guess as an educator I was excited about having a student with blindness. I mean, why wouldn't we want 20 other kids to learn how to accept a person's disability and erase the discrimination that we live with everyday in our world?

Never have I had the honor of knowing such a remarkable child. He really is brilliant. His ability to conclude what is going on and respond to is it unbelievable. He works so hard. When his visual specialist teaches him something new from the mysterious world of Braille he begs for more. He listens better than anyone I know. What impresses me most is his astounding resiliancy to the rest of the world. They expect, since he is blind, that he will not be able to do something, or that we should be easy on him because he is blind. He takes this expectation and throws it back in their faces. He works so hard overcoming the world's discrimination for him. It's almost an, "not only can I do it, but I can do it better!" attitude. After spending any amount of time with him you don't pity him. You just wish you had the same superpowers that he has!

My only sorrow is that during his life there will be a multitude of people who will never get to know his superpowers. They will never be able to see past the pity, and the blindness. They will always keep a wall up. It's a shame because not only is he blind, but he is a remarkable, brilliant, super human.

Recently, we got to talking about the special education preschool we have at my school and one of my students asked, "why don't we have anyone with a disability in our classroom?" that question says it all......

Text to text, world, self!

I am currently reading Mosaic of Thought and finished a section regarding schema. I am excited about this coming school year when I can start introducing these key concepts to my children right from the start. It's going to be a very exciting year. (This year was pretty thrilling as my goal was Writer's Workshop)

Goal for school year 2007-2008: Reader's Workshop
1. 6-8 weeks teaching the 7 strategies of comprehension under the umbrella of Metacognition.
(Check out the book Mosaic of Thought, tremendous book)
2. Having Reader's Workshop back to back with Writer's workshop- Students will use post-it notes to respond to what they are reading and hopefully they will want to try to try writing the way the author did!

3. Doing a lot more accountable talk!!!!!

I am most excited about the concept of schema. I am expecting my students to make connections from text to text, text to self, and text to world. Most importantly I am excited about the literary talk to that will be happening in my classroom, with FIRST GRADERS!!!!!

I got to thinking about classrooms where teachers are not allowing students to talk about what they read. They are still answering the questions at the end of the stories in their basals. I'm bored just thinking about it! Are these teachers just not knowledgeable about the research dealing with comprehension? Or, do they just want to skate by, knowing, but not doing. Do they do the traditional method because "by golly that's what I taught for years and it's worked!"

Sometimes, we have to do things for students that steps out of our comfort zone. Sometimes not everyone is going to fit into the box we have made for them. In my corporation where we are "failing" by the state's standards we have to start doing something different. We all need to step to the plate and do whatever it takes.

There is a really great poem by Penny Kittle about the disappointment teachers can feel regarding certain teachers. This is at my partner in crimes blogspot: go there and check it out.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What Have I Done?

Well, I have taken the advice of another colleague and subscribed to my first blog spot. I know that will become an addict but am looking forward to the knowledge I gain from the information highway.

Today I was pondering how tired I am of this school year. Why has this year been tougher? What has been coming my way faster than any other year?
I then administered the DRA to a couple of my students and found them making tremendous gains. Have I helped with this? Is this some fruit of my labor? I remember these same students coming in the first days of first grade and I wondered if we would see any gains at all! Now they are strong fluent readers!!!!
I then took a listen to my children being read to by another teacher and really enjoying a book like only they can do. (My class LOVES a good read aloud) Have I fostered that in them? Have I allowed them to read and discuss and digest the written word of another writer? I have tried. If their laughter and sheer delight I heard coming from my classroom are any indication of what I have accomplished this year then I am pleased with how tired I am of the school year. I have done my part in encouraging the love of reading! Wow! My first graders , bubble students to the ones needing enrichment, will walk out of my room and know that a book will take them anywhere!