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A few days in Ottawa

11 Jul

A few days after celebrating Mom’s life, we took my niece back to her summer job in Ottawa, where we spent a few more days. We did everything quintessentially Canadian.

We saw the changing of the guards on Parliament Hill while we waited in the ticket line for tours of Parliament.


We then ran a family errand: searching for a window air conditioner for my nieces apartment in a city that just went through a heat wave. We finally found what we wanted at the 4th store, then returned for our tours of Parliament.

The tours are free, but they limit the number of people per tour, so You have to get tickets for a specific time. We got tickets for two tours – the East Block and the Central Block.

The East Block tour focused on the history of Canada. We got to see the office of Lord Dufferin, Sir John A. Macdonald, and Sir Georges-Étienne Cartier, learning how they each helped build Canada.

We also got to go into the original Privy Council office.


On the Central Tour, we went right into the House of Commons and the Senate.

Then we got to visit the library.


We had to be silent. Fortunately, no on got shushed. The library is as modern and up-to-date as any library. I love though, that they didn’t remove the built in card catalogue.



My Mom’s Last Day

21 Jun

Tuesday was my students’ last day as sixth graders.

It turns out it was also my mom’s last day on Earth.

She got up and met her little old lady friends for coffee. She usually brought down the horoscopes or the quote of the day to share with everyone.

She called my eldest sister to take her to the dollar store for dime wrappers. She had a lot of dimes she’d won at Bingo and wanted to get them organized.

For lunch she had a toasted tomato sandwich, a banana, and a glass of milk. For dinner she had Lean Cuisine meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

Tuesday evening she went to cards & bingo – probably with her neatly organized dimes. She fainted while she was there and her little old lady friends called for an ambulance and they called my eldest sister, who beat the ambulance to the hospital.

She had revived before she got to the hospital, but her blood pressure kept dropping. She died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

She was a feisty French-Canadian who loved bingo, her family, and Pachelbel’s Canon. We will hold her memorial service on July 7th, in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.



The second last day of school

19 Jun

Yesterday, the air in my room crackled with second last day of school energy. My sixth graders were supposed to be quietly working on a task while I called students from each table group to clean and empty their lockers.

J was having a hard time. He alternated between perching on his chair with his knees tucked inside his shirt making silly noises and wandering the room. Incredibly bright, he has some behavioral issues. After redirecting him several times, I was feeling a little frazzled. I walked up to where he was standing (on the other side of the room from where he was supposed to be) and noticed that I had to look up at him. He’d gotten tall over the last year. Sixth graders do that.

“J, you seem really anxious and energized,” I commented in a positive tone of voice. “How are you feeling?”

“I don’t want school to be over.” His reply left me gobsmacked.

“What can I do to help?” I asked.

“Give me summer school,” he replied. I laughed.

“I can’t give you summer school. What can I do to help you right now?” I asked, still chuckling. “You seem to have a lot of energy”

“I don’t know,” he replied bouncing on the balls of his feet.

And then I had a brilliant idea. A Spanish textbook had been sitting in the locker room for a few days. I could send it to the library with J.

“I have an idea,” I said and offered him the book.

He placed it on his head and slowly glided towards the door.




Popularity Contest

18 Jun

The top checkouts in my library this year weren’t all that surprising.


In first place for the second year in a row, Cinder  by Marissa Meyer



In second place, I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest


Graphic Novels:

In first place, This One Summer by Jilliam Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki


In second place, Boxers by Gene Luen Yang





23 May

I have very little to say about this clip of Jason Reynolds’ commencement speech at Lesley University,  except you should watch it. And you might want to have a hankie.

Where there’s hope…

10 May

Hope Nation is a collection of essays (and one short story) from a wide range of YA authors who tell a wide range of stories about hope in the face of difficult times. Some of these times are recent and national, others are in the past and more personal. Regardless, each piece shows readers how the author overcame hardship or disappointment, or how they carry on even as problems remain unresolved. An anthology like this gives YA readers an opportunity to glimpse into a favorite author’s personal life. It can also bring new authors to readers who know only one or two authors in the collection.

Publisher’s Summary:We all experience moments when we struggle to understand the state of the world, when we feel powerless and–in some cases–even hopeless. The teens of today are the caretakers of tomorrow, and yet it’s difficult for many to find joy or comfort in such a turbulent society. But in trying times, words are power.

Some of today’s most influential young adult authors come together in this highly personal collection of essays and original stories that offer moments of light in the darkness, and show that hope is a decision we all can make.

Authors include: Atia Abawi, Renee Ahdieh, Libba Bray, Howard Bryant, Ally Carter, Ally Condie, Christina Diaz Gonzales, Gayle Forman, Romina Garber, I. W. Gregario, Kate Hart, Bendan Kiely, David Levithan, Alex London, Marie Lu, Julie Murphy, Jason Reynolds, Aisha Saeed, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Jeff Zentner, and Nicola Yoon.




The great cover up

8 May

It is SBAC testing week and the directions are clear: Cover all posters that might students an advantage.

I walk to the paper cart that is parked in our hall ready to rip off long sheets of black. Someone has left several rolls of red atop the cart. Not wanting to be wasteful I take them and staple them over the many writer’s workshop charts up on my walls. I have to stand on a chair to cover the top of the chart. I hope my principal doesn’t see me, I think. She has chastised me before about standing on chairs.

I use up the rolls that I’d taken off the cart and realize I need more. Walking to the paper cart I deliberate. Should I get more red to match the paper that is already up, or default to may original plan of black? I am leaning towards more red for consistency, but, the decision is made for me: there is no black on the cart. I tear off more red and head back to my room to complete the task.

When I have finished I look around the room and laugh. It looks like a bordello! Is that a good testing environment?


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