Independent Joy Writers

This summer I joined a group of teachers to read and study Independent Writing by Colleen Cruz.  Last year we studied Joy Write by Ralph Fletcher.  We had our first meeting on Thursday.  Our host, Dawn, not only provided us with great conversation starters but also gave us ample time to write.  For 1 of the writing times I chose to sketch an art card and then write from there (see below).


As I sit on my couch to type this blog though I am still thinking about this sketch and writing.  And I’m realizing I blossomed as a writer this past year as well.  Maybe I even blossomed as an artist too 😉 Last summer when I started this journey I was the flower on the left in the art card and picture.  Now I’d say I’m the flower on the right in my sketch.  With more time I’ll be the flower on the right in the art card (hopefully).  I’m proud of that.  I’m proud of my accomplishments.

But what makes me the most happy is that because of this I helped my students bloom as writers too.



Joy Write Reflections

Last Tuesday, as I do every week, I read my friend Dawn’s Slice of Life post.   With that post she inspired me (yet again) to think back on my school year of writing.

I took her lead.  On the last day of school for kids, a Friday, I asked my students to close their eyes and think back to each Friday when we did Joy Write.  What words come to your mind when you think of those times?  Their answers surprised me but brought back great memories from the year.  They remembered the time where I gave them a picture of a pirate ship, or the word of the day fly, or flower petals or shells to sketch and write about.  Each share brought a smile to my face.

Then I gave them 3 sentences starters to write a reflection: I liked Joy Write because…, I discovered I’m the type of writer who…, or My journal is…  And off they went to write.  As usual I reminded them there was no right or wrong.  They didn’t even have to use one of the sentence starters.  I was amazed at the honesty and details in their responses:

  • Caden discovered he was the type of writer who writes fantasy and comics.
  • James enjoyed how a story could come from just 1 single word of the day.
  • Alexi thought her journal is perfect for stories with problems and to be free.
  • Jacob found his journal to be handy.
  • Lena liked Joy Write because it calmed her down.
  • Dani found a whole new world in her writing journal.

These written reflections (and there was many, many more) and the sharing after made it clear… Joy Write was definitely one of my student’s favorite times of the week.  The amount my students grew as writers this year was amazing.  They became more comfortable trying new strategies and more eager to share their writing, both during Joy Write time and curricular work times.  And if I’m honest, I did too!



Today was hot.  Very hot.  90ish degrees, not a cloud in the sky.

So when 1:00 rolled around I was excited for my students to have recess and enjoy the fresh, humid air.  For once they cleaned up quickly, lined up quietly, and were ready to be outside early.  So off we went.

We were the 1st ones on the playground.  1st ones to get the recess bin.  1st ones to claim the shady spots.  Wendy’s class followed closely behind.

Wendy and I stood watching our classes, chatting about our days waiting for the rest of the classes to join us.

But they didn’t.

Instead, 5 minutes later, out comes the security guard.  “Um, did you know indoor recess was called for today because of the heat?” he said.

Wendy and I looked at each other and laughed.  “Nope!” we said in unison.

“Well, you got ratted out and need to bring them inside.”

Needless to say both classes looked at us like we were crazy when we blew the whistle and told them we had to go inside of indoor recess.

So much for enjoying the hot day!


Make It Amazing

One of the things I love most about my school is that we always Make It Amazing! This weekend was no different.

Each year my school puts on a variety show.  Each year we raise money for a different charity. This year the charity is called Infinite Love For Kids Fighting Cancer. So, on Sunday a bunch of colleagues and myself joined together to run, walk or cheer during the TuTu Trot. It was a day of of silliness and strength and Making it Amazing.

This race started 3 years ago when 2 kindergartens (in the same class) were diagnosed with cancer within weeks of one another.  Unfortunately, one of the girls has since passed away.  Her name was Mia…#MakeItAmazing.

While running (and let me tell you, I am in shape but far from a runner, so had time to think) I kept thinking not only about the cause but about my school.  How so many of us came together, took time away from our family and weekends to do this.  That’s something special that would wouldn’t find anywhere!  That’s us everyday… Making it Amazing!  





Dear Amanda,  

Pop the Veuve!

I am thrilled to welcome you to our family, although I feel like you’ve been part of it for a long time.  You bring the best out of my brother.  You keep us all laughing.  You are a perfect fit to our huge, crazy, loving family.

Dear Brett,

Crack open a beer!

My little brother is growing up!  I cannot believe you are engaged but could not be happier for you.  You light up when you’re around Amanda.  You have truly found your perfect match.

Dear Amanda and Brett, 

Congratulations on your engagement!  I might not show it very well but I am ecstatic for both of you.  I am here every step of the way.  So, let’s get celebrating!



Elena (the favorite sister)