The Perils of Blood Orange Soda

It was supposed to be an innocent shopping trip to Trader Joe’s.  Joey and I had just finished another errand – to buy a container of the coveted Super Lava putty – and needed to grab a few things:

  • drinks for my last session of grad class
  • flowers for my neighbor’s ill mother
  • a card to send to my daughter, Julia, who was at sleepaway camp.Image result for hot lava putty

An easy, fast trip, right?

It seemed that way until we came to the drinks aisle.  (Remember how I needed to bring something to my class?).

“I’ll get the pizza and Lisa, you buy some soda,” Dr. Portman instructed last Thursday night.

So here I was, following directions as usual, in the sparkling soda section of Trader Joe’s.

Should I get the Blood Orange variety or the Sparkling Pink Lemonade?  Or would they prefer Limeade?  As I pondered these unimportant – yet difficult questions – I casually placed the glass bottle (note – the packaging is important to remember) of Blood Orange soda back in the front basket of my red cart.

Image result for picture of trader joe's blood orange soda

If you’ve ever been to Trader Joe’s (or any grocery store, for that matter), you probably know that there is a plastic rectangle that you can push up to keep your groceries in.  Then you put it down if you want to seat your child in the cart.  Up equals secure, down equals open.

Image result for trader joe's shopping cart

Well, I thought the rectangle was up.

But alas, it wasn’t.

As I placed the soda bottle in the cart (and watched it fall quickly to the ground), I felt like I had entered a slow motion movie.  I remembered a moment years before, when Julia took a tumble down our back porch steps.  As she flew through the air, I envisioned the ensuing trip to the emergency room and all that would involve.  The mommy guilt took immediate hold on me, like a cloud of smoke filling up a room. miraculously, Julia emerged the episode unscathed, her blond curls a bit tousled but that was it.  Amazing.

But here I was now, as the aforementioned soda bottle crashed to the concrete floor of the drinks and condiments aisle in the Ardmore, Trader Joe’s.  Smashing into a million pieces.  Soon, the space around my feet had transformed into a slurry of glass, orange soda and…you guessed it.

Blood.

At first, I didn’t think it was much.  The glass hit the floor, right? Not my body.  But nonetheless, tiny gashes dotted my legs.  Three on the right and two on the left, to be exact.

“I’m okay, ” I said to the cluster of employees that quickly gathered around Joey and me, like paramedics in a crime scene.  “I’m more embarrassed than anything, really,” I said to no one in particular, forcing a fake chuckle.

“I told you to get the plastic apple juice, Mommy!” Joey chimed in and although I couldn’t agree with him more, it wasn’t what I felt like hearing right at that moment.

Image result for trader joe's apple juice

Soon though, as often happens in times of crisis, the employees had cleaned up my legs and the floor, with a myriad of first aid items (band-aids, antiseptic ointment and wipes), a mop, sudsy water, and an old-fashioned broom.  During that time, fellow shoppers walked past, peering discreetly (and not so discreetly) at the “accident scene.”

“Do you want to fill out a report?” the friendly store manager asked, her notepad and pen at the ready.

“Of course not,” I answered truthfully.  “This was a freak accident; I don’t hold any blame on Trader Joe’s.  Really.”

She took my information anyway, to follow-up with a call the next day.  In the meantime, as always happens during embarrassing moments, someone that I knew strolled past.  (Julia’s former after-care teacher from years back).  We stopped and chatted for a briefly and I couldn’t help thinking about how surreal the whole situation felt.

Before I knew it, the helpful employees had whisked us up to the cash register, opening a new lane just for us to circumvent the three and four deep lines in each row.  They also dropped two bouquets of fresh flowers in our shopping bag – a small (but much appreciated) get well token.

Wanting this embarrassing ordeal to finally come to a close, I rushed home with Joey.  To be on the safe side though, I decided to make a quick trip to my local Urgent Care, so that I could rest easy that evening.

That visit turned out to be more than I had bargained for: stitches in three out of the five cuts!!  All from a seemingly normal jaunt to TJ’s on a glorious June afternoon.

Oh well, things could be worse, I told myself.

And in the future, I will take Joey’s advice:

Choose plastic.

 

Teacher’s Note: You might be wondering how this post relates to Literacy with Lisa. Here’s how:

As teachers, one of the most powerful things that we can do for our students is to share our own stories. To let them know that like them, we are also writers.  That we draft, revise, edit and publish.  That we make mistakes during the writing process, get frustrated sometimes and keep going anyway.

Most importantly, we let them know that the stories of our lives are worth writing about.  That they matter. And that their stories do too.

To quote from The Fabulous Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore:

 “Everyone’s story matters.”  

Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Image result for fabulous flying books of morris lessmore

So, what story from your own life will you write and share with your own students?

Editor’s Note:
For more tips on writing for our students (and creating a writing community in your classroom) read this post:
Building a Community of Writers from TWT

An Evening with Wally Lamb

 It’s Slice of Life Tuesday!  To learn more about what this is, click here: Slice of Life Tuesday on Two Writing Teachers.  Read on for my Slice of Life Story for today.slice of life_classSlice of Life

About two years ago, I attended an author event near my house, at St. Joseph’s University.

The headliner?

Wally Lamb, the novelist and author of She’s Come Undone, I Know This Much is True and The Hour I First Believed.

She’s Come Undone  is one of my long time favorite novels.  I read it years ago on my honeymoon to Europe, across transatlantic flights and early morning Eurorail rides.

So I couldn’t wait to meet Mr. Lamb in person: to hear him speak, have my book signed and listen to him read from his new book: We Are Water.

But when the evening began, Wally appeared and then introduced his son, the poet, Justin Lamb.

My first instinct was one of annoyance.  (Sorry Justin!).  I was there to listen to Wally, not his son.  And although I love poetry, this wasn’t what I had originally planned for my Thursday evening.

But I quietly waited for him to begin performing from However It Turns Out is Perfect.  Like the opening act at a rock concert, I didn’t have high expectations.However It Turns Out Is Perfect

Boy, was I wrong.  Justin opened with Tips for Scaling Barbed Wire, based on his tutoring experience with an adolescent boy named Daniel.

Within moments, I was riveted, on the edge of my seat.

Click here to listen to Justin and see for yourself! 

Live Performance of Tips for Scaling Barbed Wire

Viewer Discretion Note: This is NOT suitable for children

All I can say is that at the conclusion of the evening, I decided to forgo the line for Wally, that stretched out the door and around the corner. Instead, I spent a few moments speaking with Justin.  I told him about my job as a consultant/literacy coach in Philly at Children’s Literacy Initiative.  We shared some stories about teaching and he autographed my CD.

His words stayed with me long after that spring evening.  I played his poem for friends, teachers and colleagues.  But then the CD got filed away in a pile of other odds and ends (as often happens in life) and I forgot about it.

Until recently.

The “Daniels” Out There

I’m in a new role now – teaching 2nd grade in a more suburban setting – but there are Daniels everywhere.  Even if a student doesn’t have a checkered past like him, every child has a story, a road map that brought him/her to today.

I ask you to reflect on Justin’s poem as you work with your students.

Thoughts to ponder…

What factors have influenced your students?  How does that affect their academics/behavior? And how does this knowledge impact the way that you approach your interactions with them today?

Please share your thoughts here on this question or the video itself.

Happy Slice of Life Tuesday,

Lisa

 

 

 

Two Amazing Sites (and a few books too)

We often turn to our favorite professional books and web sites to start the year. What books do you turn to again and again and how do you use them? 

Teachers need books that are accessible, practical and easy to implement.  Sometimes a book looks great at first glance but can be daunting once we actually try to use it.  We are busy, of course, and don’t have the luxury of time to sit and read a book from cover to cover.  (Okay, let’s face it.  Sometimes even finding the time to read one chapter during the school year can be tough!!).

Here are a few books that that I’ve used, as well as two web sites that I recommend to help launch the new school year:

Web Sites

1. Two Writing Teachers

Two Writing Teachers

I just recently discovered this writing blog and am so glad that I did.  It’s jam packed with practical, research based ideas on writing workshop.  Sign up to receive daily blog posts through email, written by a whole host of authors.

A recent post is about A Game Plan for Transitions in Writing Workshop.  Read this short essay to help plan mini-lessons and strategies for successfully lauching Writing Workshop from the first day of school.

Another cool thing about the site is the Slice of Life on Tuesdays.  More to come on that, as I plan to start taking the weekly challenge.

2. The Next Steps in Guided Reading Companion Site

Jan Richardson Guided Reading

I learned about this site in a professional development seminar last year.  Already familiar with her book, I wasn’t sure how much different the site would be.  So glad that I took the time to check it out!  It’s definitely worth exploring, whether you use her companion text, The Next Step in Guided Reading, or not.

Click here: Jan Richardson Resources to find a whole list of free printables that you can use to enhance guided reading in your classroom. This is a site to bookmark!

Books

1. The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

 

This book is exactly what the title states: an index of reading strategies.  The chapters are divided by general reading goals, like fluency, decoding, etc.  From there, each goal is further broken down, with one page lessons for each.  For example, fluency is not just fluency, but has separate lessons for “reading with phrases,” and “paying attention to ending punctuation.”  And each lesson has specific, easy to use language that teachers can use to introduce the objective as well as sample anchor charts.

What I love about this book is that you can find an example of how to teach almost any reading strategy or skill, without having to sift through multiple pages to find what you need.  And the chapters are further divided by reading level, which also saves time for teachers.

A great resource to have for any elementary (or possibly even pre-K) teacher!!

2. The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson

This book is used widely in my local school district and is a great resource for guided reading.  Divided into four main stages of reading development (emergent, early, transitional, fluent), this resource has everything that you need to plan and teach guided reading to all students.  What’s great is that there are several options for each stage, which makes differentiating instruction easy.

If you teach guided reading, I highly recommend taking the time to get familiar with this book!

3. Children Want to Write, by Donald Graves

I just discovered this text during a spring PD session with my school district.  There were many new ideas and strategies that I would like to try with my students this year, including a sharing protocol (ways to share during writing workshop) and also “actions” that teachers can take to better know their students. One of the Donald Graves key points is that when we truly know our students, we can better support them and help them grow as writers.  He also believes that as teachers, we should sometimes write alongside our students.

4. The Cafe Book, by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser

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I like this book because not only does it take teachers step by step through the nuts and bolts of small group instruction, it also has a handy appendix with strategies and skills to teach during guided reading (or even whole group).  Do your students need help with “using context,” for example? Or reading with fluency?  Use the appendix to find the right language to teach exactly what your students need.

 

5. Guiding Readers and Writers by Fountas and Pinnell

An oldie but a goodie.  When I taught third grade, I used this book as a way to introduce the procedures of independent reading and reading workshop.  Turn to The First Twenty Days to find easy to teach mini-lessons to help your students become focused and independent while you meet with small groups.  What I loved about these mini-lessons is that they came complete with sample language and even anchor charts.

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What is your favorite “go to” book or web site and how do you use it?? Have you used any of the resources above and did you find them useful? Please share your comments here so we can support each other as we begin a new year!