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Toppings on a Burger?

Yesterday we let Madalyn choose the where we had dinner. That can be scary thing to do at times, but she did well tonight!

We ate at a local grill in Clarkesville, GA where they have burgers with interesting toppings named after certain cities.

Until recently, I was a cheeseburger with cheese only girl (and I still am most of the time).

Neil gets more adventurous with toppings … he loves burgers with an egg on it. He might even try one with a piece of pizza on it tomorrow night!

I have enjoyed an Elvis burger (with peanut butter and banana).

My burger was topped with Pineapple and teriyaki sauce (and grilled onions that I had left off). Neil had a burger with peaches and sweet onion sauce.

Last week, Madalyn had a burger with grilled onions, pepper jack cheese, and avocados. She has been trying variations of burgers with avocados recently (yesterday, she had one with guacamole on it). Our friend had a black and blue burger that was blackened and topped with blue cheese and onion straws.

Tonight we went to another place for dinner (we are on vacation), and the special for tonight was bison burgers topped with an array of unusual choices.


What is the best and/or most unusual topping you have ever had on a burger?

If you could have anything on a burger, what combination would you choose?

I guess that could become a problem-based learning project …

Or a math one figuring out combinations ….



Starting out this year, one of my main goals was to be a better version of ME. 

I was not motivated by having a negative image of myself …

I just wanted to feel better

The last year or so has been pretty rough

Losing my mom really knocked the wind out of me

Even though I knew it was coming

I felt like I was in a fog

Some great things happened that year but something was missing …

I think without realizing it, I was trying to make sure that everything was OK for everyone else 

And not me

This year, I have gone to grief counseling, which led to the art therapy sessions at Sawtooth, and pushed me to getting started back with art again

Watercolor painting (or playing as I often refer to it) takes patience

Which has not been a strength of mine

But I look forward to my time doing that just for me

The art therapy also allowed me to experience different breathing techniques and practices

Which I so enjoyed and shared with others

That also prompted me to be more present in the NOW

And even more to take advantage of opportunities and experiences

I am reading a book right, Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body a Little More Each Day

And I am even more appreciative of my family/friends and their acceptance for me as me

No matter what size I am or was

Weight and what is on the outside was not and is really a focus

And that is not because we are all skinny, but it is just not the focus

So when I decided to start with a healthy eating program earlier this year, 

It was not really about losing weight

Well, I guess it kinda was

But I really just wanted to be healthier overall

But I was doubtful

But I did it anyway

I am eating and doing things I never even considered before

And not feeling deprived or stressed out

I think focusing on health and not weight has helped me be successful

I am not saying that I am not glad I have lost over 40 pounds

I am not saying that I am not glad to be fitting in clothes better

I am not saying that I am not glad my doctor took me off blood pressure medicine

But I am more excited that I am feeling better

I feel like participating in my life

And in my daughter’s life

And in my husband’s life

I am not in a fog anymore

I am even more excited about experiences and opportunities

Following the plan has led to me eating healthier and making healthier choices

But it has not always been easy

I was a dedicated Coke drinker …

Now it is mainly water

I am a BIG fan of chicken nuggets from Chick-Fil-A

Now I choose the grilled ones 

But not always …

I don’t always make the best choices for my health

But they are healthier ones than before

At least most of the time

I did eat a Cream Cheese Muffin from my favorite bakery in Signal Mountain last week

And a few bites of cake

Today is my husband’s birthday and my 40th is right around the corner,

So I forsee cake again in my future

But that is a choice

And it does not ruin everything

I can always make better choices after that

And do



Stop, Look, and Listen Before You Cross the Street

When you see a stop sign, what do you do?

When you see a caution sign, what do you do?

When you see a flashing light, what do you do?

Those are signs designed to capture you attention and do something …

It may signal that you need to stop or that you need to pay attention.

Too many times, we read and just keep going not even noticing the signals or clues that the author might be sharing in the story. 

I guess we do that in life too …

But right now, let’s focus on when we read stories!

I recently saw some people talking about reading signposts, and I was intrigued, so I searched it, read about it, and even ordered a book (I am a teacher book collector … they make me happy … but I don’t always get a chance to read all the books I buy, so that is something I am focusing on right now). I got so excited about the Notice and Note by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst that I started the ideas from it with my students before I even finished reading the book!

Reading Signposts are places the reader stop and asks questions when they see the character or author say or do something in the text. It is a signal that is helping us pay more attention to what we are reading. Some of the signposts are like bright red flags being waved while others resemble that slightly blinking light far away in the distance.

I am using small piece of text to introduce and practice each sign post (as it recommends in the book) but then I am asking students to apply is using both the book we are reading together and the book that is being read aloud in class. 

So far I have only introduced two of the six reading signposts, but I am amazed (and I don’t use that word lightly) at the conversations that are happening about books in my small groups. 

I see my students looking at what they are reading in new ways. 

I see my students making connection between parts of the book and even to other books that they would not have made before.

I see my students being challenged in their thinking while they are reading!

And that makes this gifted education teacher smile!


Record to Improve?

Whether it is from a video, a voice mail message, or an audio recording of a message you left …
How do you react when you hear a recording of yourself?
Do you notice how your words can sound different than you think they should?
Do you notice how fast or slow you are talking?
Does it make you cringe a little and want to do it again to make it better?
Reading Fluency is more than just how many words I can read in a minutes and how fast I can go …
Think about how you react when you hear a person read aloud or give a speech. If the person does not read very smoothly, then most of the time the listener is more focused on trying to determine what is being said rather than the meaning of what is being said …
I was at a conference recently and after looking at the session descriptions, I marked the ones I wanted to attend … and sometimes had 3rd or 4th choices too.  But my favorites seemed to be the top choices of others too …
So I decided to do something I have done before at conferences … find a session that does not have that many people in it and attend it! That forces me to really listen and challenge myself to find connections I can use.
This time, the strategy turned out to be a gold mine! 
I do admit that I had thought the session description sounded a bit interesting when I first saw it but since the presenters were K-2 teachers, I was not to sure if any of the info would work for me …
Boy was I wrong …
I am used to teaching 4th and 5th grade students … this year I am teaching in a 3rd grade dual immersion class … these kids are babies!!! (in my mind at least)
The session I attended on focused on ways to use technology to help students improve their fluency.
The presenters have ipads in the classrooms. I have recently added a few Kindle Fires to my classroom, but can easily adjust the ideas, since the ideas here don’t focus a certain type of technology but focus on the improvement of fluency skills using the technology available.
Students can use the recording and playback features on the tablets (or even tape recorders if that is what is available) to increase their fluency and ability to self-evaluate.  
A student will record himself reading a story and then listens to it with a critical ear (most of the time we don’t need to be taught how to be critical) using a rubric. The rubric is a way for a student to listen to himself and then think about how he can get better.
How many times should he practice reading out loud before recording again?
What are the words that he needs to really focus on for clear pronunciation?
How can he make the words easier to understand?
After self-evaluation, guidance, and practice, a student records himself reading again. We now have both recordings and can hear the change and improvement. Have you seen a child’s face light up when he realizes he has really improved? It is pure sunshine!
As students progress, they begin recording their retell attempts and again use a rubric to evaluate  which leads to improvement …
Students can even record answers to comprehension questions to help them decide how to make the answers better …



What questions will you ask and inspire today?