Sunday, October 12, 2008

2008 Hartford Half Marathon

It was a glorious day! After a night of getting up about 4 times due to nerves, a headache, and a head cold, and then nearly panicking (okay, I DID panic!) 10 minutes before the start b/c all 100 portapotties had about 300 people in front of EACH ONE, I found my place on Elm Street. My nerves were calmed by a veteran runner telling me that I would "have a great time running the half marathon - they're so much fun!" After the "Runners Ready" Signal and the horn, we bolted down Elm and Trinity and over the Founders Bridge into East Hartford!
I couldn't ask for better running weather - cool, sunny, dry. I ran the whole way and came well within my goal range of 2:10-2:30 with a time of 2:13:47. The run through RiverFront park was by far the most beautiful scene - sun mirroring off the smooth waters of the Connecticut River. Bands played enroute and spectators cheered everyone onward. I felt great the whole run with just a little pain in my knees around mile 11. After mile 10, I felt awesome, as each step I ran was longer than I'd ever run in my entire life (in one running!). I found Matthew taking pictures at mile 10.5 and sprinted over to give him a kiss, then got back into my pace! :) By the time I hit the 12 mile marker, I felt no pressure, because I knew I was close to my 10 min/mile pace goal, and I only had about 20 minutes left.
Inspirations abounded all along the way - like the guy missing a leg, but running on his arm crutches! Or the VERY elderly man I ran by who had run a marathon in ALL 50 states TWO TIMES!!! (He said the "first time" took him 2.5 years to complete! Can you imagine a marathon in Alaska!?)
Afterwards, Matthew & I walked around the festivities in Bushnell Park and enjoyed the freebies and sights. I would definitely do it again, and would encourage anyone to try it - if you train, it's VERY do-able, and even if you don't, you can always walk/run the course with a buddy. It was honestly, the most fun race I've been in to date (and I do love the Manchester Road Race, but it's a bit too crowded, and no water breaks!).
Here's my inspirational verse I kept repeating whenever I was tired:
Isaiah 40:31 - But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall RUN AND NOT BE WEARY, and they shall walk and not faint."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Life Lessons

Have you ever wondered why life's little instruction books don't tell you what you really need to know?
Like how brushing your teeth is similar to swimming - you need to wait 20 minutes after eating! I forgot this and last night I felt like I was brushing my teeth with a chocolate graham cracker! It was delicious, but I'm not sure how healthy it was for the pearly whites.

Just a quick update on summer...
1. House Projects are coming along nicely - we have the upstairs floors refinished and stained a nice cherry finish, all the walls painted a cocoa brown (like our downstairs toasted sesame and toasted chestnut painted rooms, everything has to be food-related!). Now we're working on trim and new doors, and waiting on the last few pieces of the bathroom to come in.
2. Reading - I have been reading several books from my classroom library to keep up with the kids - nothing has struck my real interest yet, but I'm glad to know a few more of the titles I keep. Also continue reading Everest books and a very interesting book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Kingsolver about eating locally.
3. You can visit my garden blog (View Complete Profile) to get updates on our home-grown food and the woodchuck wars.
4. Writing - has been slow, but I scribble a few notes now and then in my purse-notebook, and try to keep up posts on my blogs and facebook.
5. Running - I'm training for the Hartford Marathon (so I tell myself) by running the Wickham Park Grand Prix series (2.6 mi) - also good for cross country coaching this fall. Oh, and it's helping keep me in shape!

Well - that's about it for now - we're trying to wrap things up and relax before heading off to a few weddings and Chincoteague, VA later this summer. Can't believe how fast the time flies when you're NOT working! heh heh!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Vermont - New Hampshire Vacation Slide Show

And a good time was had by all... our first time camping, 2nd time up Mt. Washington, first lengthy road trip!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Memoir Memories

"Everyone has a story to tell" - a great article recently in AARP (not that I'm old enough! HA!) - led me to teach memoir writing to my 7th graders.
I am touched by the "life lessons" they are trying to embed into their stories. I can't wait to read the final products next Tuesday at our Writer's Celebration - we're having a "beach towel" celebration to end the year. Should be fun! :)

I think everyone should attempt this kind of writing at some point in their life. As the author said, without our "5 minutes ago," who are we? I discovered the value of recording my own stories, humble as they are (which is my greatest writer's block-my simple, boring life stories!) However, I have been so inspired by some of the materials I found for this unit (But was unable to touch the tip of, b/c the year is ending so quickly!), that I plan to try out all the suggested activities in my own writing notebook this summer. Especially the ideas from the article.

To read the article, click here:

Monday, May 26, 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

"Just Write" Continued - Feedback and Response!

To Lydia, (and others who are curious!)
Great feedback on my last post, thanks! I am still working on this anacronym to possibly use in the classroom soon.
The part about time - the "small moment" is a writer's workshop term from Lucy Calkins, I believe. Her instruction in writing asks students to choose to write about small moments, that is, moments that are short, so the writing can be DEEP instead of WIDE. Example: My trip to Florida is not a small moment. My day at Disney World is not a small moment. However, Deciding to Go on Space Mountain would probably qualify as a small moment - do you see how the writer would have to "zoom in" (another Calkins term) on a topic that happened in a small amount of time. This way, students can then develop this moment FULLY with sensory details, attention grabbing leads, dialogue, etc. And the moment would get well-fleshed out and hopefully lead to quality writing, as opposed to a summarization of key events on a WHOLE trip or even a WHOLE day. The point is to get the students writing deeply and specifically.

The part about engagement - again, "engagement" is more of a reader's workshop term (again, Calkins), and it refers to a student's ability to stick with their reading and return themselves to their reading despite distractions, motivation, disinterest, etc. You know, I didn't really think about the reflexive use of the "-self/selves" pronoun, but I will look into it to be sure I am using it correctly. I keep HEARING "engage yourself" so I just started using it in my writing as well to explain the concept.
So - as readers, we often get distracted, but we as adults have usually learned how to "re-engage" with the reading. As writers, the students are often SO easily led away from their writing by any little thing, including the poor choice of topic (much like how readers "disengage" when they have made a poor book choice).

So - I am aiming to have students stay engaged. (Let's just avoid the "selves" for now! :) )

Thanks again for the thoughts, as it really makes me think further into the topic/idea!

Monday, April 21, 2008

"Just Write" writing

At school in Reader's Workshop, the reading teachers give the students a lot of instruction on choosing "just right" books - they have a "5 finger rule" and a few other tips for choosing a book that is at the "just right" reading level for each kid. Before they learned to choose "just right" books and thus become engaged with their reading, students would often grab any book, try to read it and become discouraged, bored, or disengaged for a variety of reasons.

Well, the same thing is happening with their writing. Instead of developing writing topics that are "just right" for writing, they are randomly choosing to write about things like "the dictionary," or "an apple." But they have so little engagement with these topics that their writing quickly falters. As I observed my students struggling with their writing in the past few weeks, it occured to me that the TOPICS they are choosing are not "just right" for them. That is, they aren't really truly "choosing" topics.

It breaks my heart to see students really trying to write, but struggling to stay engaged with their topic - so maybe this all seems obvious to you, my blog readers, but... this has come as an epiphany for me! I am going to develop some lessons for early in the workshop called "Just Write" writing.

I envision an anacronym that with rules for choosing topics - something like this:

A "Just Write" topic is a moment/idea that I

Want to write about,
Remember clear details about,
Imagine sensory details,
Takes a "small moment" of time, and
Engage myself with for a significant amount of time (through the editing & revising process).

Now - that isn't really kid friendly yet, but I keep having to reteach these same lessons over and over in my one-on-one conferences, that I thought I'd just write this down to capture the idea. Kind of like using my blog as a temporary "writer's notebook" to gather my idea in... since I happened to be online when the thought occurred.

So - consider this my rough draft... Any ideas for helping my anacronym be more kid-friendly or concise?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Interesting video - shots of the ship, Gordon Lightfoot song, actual radio contact replayed, photos of the 29 missing men.


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