Saturday, December 29, 2007

Three Cups of Tea

So late last week I visited Cloudscome's site and read a post about a book called, "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson I thought, wow, that sounds like a great book. I thought that I would check it out at my local library and then read it over the holidays. Instead, it called for me when I was at the Barnes and Noble bookstore. It beckoned for me to read it, I bought it and then couldn't stop reading it until I was finished. What an inspiration to teachers, people who consider all muslims terriorists, anyone!
Late last week I wrote a post about peace, about how I feel we need to bring our troops home, because I want them home. We have so much work to do, we have so much we need to do for others. We are going about this war on terror all wrong. One thing that so inspired me about this book was not this man's mission, but my heart change. I have not been so kind in my words about the terrorists. I have not educated myself about them, I have not wanted to, I have been a terrorist in my thinking. How am I any better than they? My heart was changed for this underdeveloped country. I found myself thinking, "no wonder." Here is a country that is basically illiterate. These taliban "people" come to their villages and offer to educate them, especially in the Koran, and when they graduate from their madrassa they offer them money ($300 American dollars, a yearly fortune to most) to join the Taliban. Do you see why I said, "no wonder?" If I were poor, illiterate, barely able to support myself, let alone my village, I would take the money and run!
Greg Mortenson, and the CAI, have been working towards peace for over a decade, they have been building schools amongst the poorest of the poorest villages. They have been providing for the refugees from war torn villages. But most importantly, they have built trust among Americans and Muslims. Something our government has been supremely failing, since the war on terror began.
So what can we do? How can we help bring about even more peace? Below you will find some websites, more importantly read his book. You too, will walk away with a different view of what one person can do!
Three Cups of Tea Website
Something I would like to do in my school or classroom is have a Pennies for Peace campaign. Children can bring in pennies and donate them. The monies go to build schools in Central Asia. Can you believe that for a dollar a day they can pay a teacher there? It only takes $12,000 dollars to build a whole school!
How can you help?

Thursday, December 20, 2007


For the last several weeks I have been contemplating this word: peace. What does it mean? Why is it so important? Why does it keep passing through my mind? I sometimes get so crazed at this time of the year. I race this way and that, I make list after list, I buy and I wrap. I have so much to do. This time of year is not peaceful. While I was wrapping gifts the other day my children asked me questions about each person that I was wrapping for, we discussed what we bought and why we felt they needed a gift. My daughter asked what I wanted for Christmas.
I couldn't answer her, I don't have a list. I simply answered, "My cup runneth over, you are all I need."
This is what peace is, it is finally feeling content with what you have been given.
My mind has also been thinking about how we are a country at war, this Christmas our country is not at peace. Peace doesn't even seem near. Many families do not have peace in their homes because of the war on terror. This is where my heart has been drifting lately. I don't have a stance on the war. I have not kept abreast at what is happening, or even a timeline of events. I only know that I want it to end, I want our troops home. I, a person who has no ties to anyone in the military, only want them to be home because I want them to be with their families. I want there to be peace for them, I want them to be able to say, "My cup runneth over..."
So, how can I be proactive, what can I do to make it more peaceful? What can one person accomplish?
The USO, Until Every One Comes Home
Support Our Troops is a website that has a whole list of organizations that you can choose from to make the time easier for troops and their families. Visit and choose.
How will you contribute to the peace here on earth?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Writer's Notebook Wednesday

I didn't really write this yet in my notebook but had an idea once I read the challenge this week from Hipwritermama and the Two Writing Teachers. Here is the challenge:
"What are you going to do today, this week, this month, this year, to take yourself seriously? For the sake of your dream?”- HipWriterMama

This year I would really like to challenge myself to start sharing my knowledge with other teachers. I thoroughly enjoyed having a student teacher. I also liked having time to go into other classrooms while she was teaching. I enjoyed sharing with other students via conferencing and also leading mini lessons and sharing time.
I want my work that I have been doing professionally to be taken seriously. I want others to of me when they have questions or want to bounce ideas. I want to be taken seriously in a professional way.
I am also realizing that this challenge is not finished. I haven't the foggiest idea about how this goal will be accomplished or what steps I will take to see it come to fruition. I guess that is what a Writer's Notebook is all about...
If you have a suggestion, leave it in my comments area. (Even if you don't have a suggestion leave a comment. I would love to hear from you!)

Weight Loss Wednesday

Another 3 pounds. I was feeling very much like I hadn't lost a pound. I was feeling discouraged, but I stepped on the scale and saw the numbers drop. I was very pleased with my lost this week as I haven't been doing as much excercise. No excuses really just lots of Christmas type events that are occuring. This week should be better! That brings my grand total to 14 pounds in four weeks!!!!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Myself as a reader... MEME

Jen meme(d) me about myself as a reader. Here are 8 things about me:
1. I can't remember not reading. It seems in my home you learned this skill naturally. It just sort of evolved. I remember the books: Kim's Kittens, The Firehouse Cat, storytime at the library.
2. My first chapter book in the third grade was Charlotte's Web. I read it over and over and over again. I still have the same copy in my classroom. You can see my third grade handwritten name inside, I loved that book.
3. I love anything historical by nature. There were a lot of good books at the turn of the century. I purchased several of them. One of my favorites is Letters of the Century, what a glimpse into the lives of everyone. I also enjoyed the book of letters that Nancy and Ronald Regan wrote to one another during their marriage. I love history I guess.
4. During the summer I am a voracious reader. I get to stay up very late to read whatever novel I have checked from the library. I can read several novels a week. The girls and I will come home from the library and the house goes silent, for hours...
5. During the school year I don't read as much for enjoyment, I read more Better Homes and Gardens, and Time magazine. On the weekends I enjoy the newspaper.
6. I call Nora Roberts books, "no thinkers." I love, love, love, love to read Nora Roberts' books, however, I can read them without really putting much thought into them. I love this! It is my way of unwinding, of getting lost.
7. I don't have a favorite children's author, I have several: Kevin Henkes, Patricia Polacco, Mem Fox, Eve Bunting, Mercer Mayer, Jan Brett, Marc Brown, Syd Hoff, I could go on and on and on and on. My students know that Mrs. Amick knows about books. It is my purpose to know much about authors and their books. Kids need that, it shows that books are so important.
8. I really don't like to receive gift certificates to the books store. What do you get there? It's too hard to choose. I always feel like a kid at Chucky Cheese who has lots of tickets, but not enough, and I can't make my choices. What shall I choose?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Weight Loss Wednesday

Okay, so last week I didn't post about this? Guess life just got in the way!
Here is my day in numbers:
Number of pounds lost last week: 1.9 (only 1/10 of a pound away from 2!)
Number of pounds lost this week, December 12, 2007: 2.9 (only 1/10 of a pound away from 3!)

(My precious Babs in her festive Christmas wear, with her dear sweet Sydni, an icing duo! Love that Babs!)
Number of cut out cookies baked, and iced: 59
Number of knives licked by Sydni: 4 (there were four colors of frosting!)
Number of different kinds of cookies baked: 4
Number of years baking an obscene amount of cookies in one night: 10????
Number of Hershey Kisses left unused by peanut butter blossoms: 4

We do it every year. We load up all our baking gear, literally my aunt, mom, and grandmother bring baking sheets, big bowls, all their sprinkles, vanilla, powdered sugar, food coloring, sugar, flour, etc. My kitchen gets overtaken. Grandma begins by unwrapping chocolates, my mother begins making seven layer bars, and I begin making Mexican Wedding rings. My aunt prepares her peppermint bark while the children roll out dough to start cutting out cookies. It is mass chaos basically. It is the best chaos ever! The kitchen heats up, the coffee pot starts steaming, and the chatter begins. We laugh, we bake, we love. In the end, after all the cookies, bars, bark, and frostings have been finished we gather our tupperware and start sorting. We divvy up the goodies, hug each other tight and head for home. My girls get tucked in by Newt Ny, Amy, and Mimi Ford. Sydni can't sleep because her veins have sugar racing through them. The cookie extravaganza is complete...

If you invite me to a gathering, guess what I'll be bringing? It is so worth it when you come to my home unannounced, guess what I'll be serving?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

When words come along

You ever notice that words come along at just the right time? I have been thinking about my first first graders. They are currently in fourth grade. Many of them are in Jen Barney's classroom. I wish that I could apologize to them for the things I didn't teach them. Oh, the things that I know now! I guess that teaching will always be like that. We should never get to the point where we believe we have this profession mastered, kind of like life. I was visiting Ruth's blog and found that she had replaced her quote that she leaves on the side. Here is the new quote:
"You did what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better."
~ Maya Angelou
I wasn't a terrible teacher back then. I just didn't know what I know now. I didn't know about the 7 keys to comprehension. I didn't know about Writer's Workshop, establishing community, building relationships, working with high/low achieving students, etc. I did know how to teach in small groups, shared reading, phoneme awareness, some writing, etc. I did what I knew how to do. Now I know better, and I am doing better. I feel more empowered by my knowledge. I feel like I also am at a level of helping others. Most importantly, I am looking for knowledge that will help me be better. Isn't that what it's all about?
This is a wonderfully reflective quote, I am glad it came along when it did.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

My daily something...

I have had this picture frame since we were married. We got a calendar full of inspirational sayings attached to a wedding gift. That was 10 years ago...
This one got yanked from the calendar right from the start, it seemed to relay what life should be about. It should be about patience, forgiveness, and the knowledge that we all make mistakes. Daily, it is my little bit of "something." I leave it for you today...

"Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love."
Ephesians 4:2

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"I read it all by myself..."

Two weeks into the school year I sat down next to one of my little girls. She is shy, engaged in learning, and not very confident. During Reader's Workshop I asked her, "How's it going? Would you read this book to me?" We were at our beginning stages, we had just done a mini lesson on reading books by looking at the pictures, I didn't expect them to be using print strategies. The little girl's eyes welled with tears and she said, "Mrs. Amick, I don't know how to read."
This was my first bump in the road for this student. I guided her every step of the way through our lessons on print strategies. I showed her how to "read" pictures. I praised her in front of her peers. She started to read, she is making great strides. At parent teacher conferences I met with her dad. He is so excited about her accomplishments. He has seen her grow so much this year. He is excited about her progress.

Fast forward, December 6, 2007:
"Mrs. Amick, Mrs. Amick I can read this book all by myself!" She is holding up Mem Fox's Harriet You'll Drive Me Wild.
I talked with her about her first weeks and her disappointment she felt when she couldn't read. We cried, that little first grader and I cried together as our hearts filled with pride over her accomplishments.
I know today that if this feeling ever goes away as a teacher, I am done. I will no longer be effective as an educator. She can read the book all by herself, that is student achievement.