taking a moment to listen

slice of life 2014

It was the end of a long day, my throat was hurting, I felt exhausted, and I was ready to go home. However, we still had 30 minutes of class left. As my students wrapped up typing their fantasy story drafts, I asked if anyone wanted to share their introduction. I called on a particular student to share because I was so amazed when I sat next to him and read his draft earlier on. Then, more hands went up. One student exclaimed after hearing one student’s story, “I can’t wait to hear what happens next!” Originally, I was only going to have two or three students share, but as I kept listening, and more hands went up, I wanted to hear them all.

As I listened to the stories of my students, I couldn’t help but smile. My students could write. They had voice, they had realistic dialogue, they had inner thinking, they had conflicts, they had archetypal characters, they had suspense, and they had creativity.

Most days, I’m busy beating myself up, wishing I could be a better teacher  (imagine working on a team with 13 really amazingly talented fifth grade teachers everyday), and seeing areas I can improve on. However, today was one of those days, where I just needed to sit back and listen. Listen to the voices of my 22 students, sharing a piece of themselves, in a way no one else can. I listened, I enjoyed and I smiled.

Slice of Life Tuesdays is sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers. Join us & write. 

the drop box


the drop box

a box is for groceries that are too heavy for plastic bags

a box is not for breathing babies light enough to carry with one hand

a box is for packing all of your crucial things you think you can not live with out

a box is not for rapidly beating hearts abandoned by the world

a box is for books that are being returned to it’s home in the library

a box is not for minds, eager to be shaped by places only books can take you

a box is for playing kings and queens in a make believe castle

a box is not a home for royalty

a box that illustrates a story of faith, hope and love

a box that says you are worth every breath

a box that brings a new life

this is the drop box

This poem was inspired by this video that I just watched.

Check out more information on this movie on their website: http://dropbox-movie.com./film.html


a place called home

I walked back to my apartment and I passed by the familiar durian stand with the strong pungent smell, the seedy motel with “interesting” late at night guests, and the comforting signs of 7-11 on the corner. After a long thanksgiving weekend in Malaysia, I was glad to be back. Sure it was nice staying at the fancy Shangri-la hotel, but the minute I got to my apartment, I felt relieved to be back home.

Living abroad, it’s easy to get confused about where your “home” truly is. My permanent address is my parent’s home back in New York. Yet, I don’t really have my own room there anymore. A bunch of my winter clothes and books are stored in the basement in boxes.  Every year as I go back to visit, it feels a little less like my home and a bit more foreign.

After 4 years in Korea, it felt like my home. Now that I moved, I miss Korea terribly at times.  After 4 months of being here in Singapore, this foreign place is slowly starting to feel a bit like home. Even though they say home is where the heart is, what do you do when pieces of your heart are scattered all over?

Where is home for you? 

The Slice of Life Challenge happens every Tuesday and is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.

A Rare Moment

Last period was  finally approaching on this long Monday and we had some extra time. I wanted to try something different. I explained to my students that we would write poems about what they are thankful for. We would share these poems at our thanksgiving celebration on Wednesday. I gave them the prompt,”I am thankful for…”

Then, they opened their writer’s notebooks and wrote, but unlike the other times, where I walk around and meet with students, I decided to write as well. I opened up my writer’s notebook, which I admit was gathering some dust in my bookshelf, and got out my inky teacher pen and wrote. I crossed out some lines and struggled to come up with what I wanted to say exactly. However, I managed to put something together. A rough draft. A beginning to something. After about 15 minutes of writing, I walked around and encouraged students to expand and be more descriptive on what they wrote.

I read aloud to them what I had so far and had a few other students share as well. Afterwards, one of my students came up and asked, “Is that your writer’s notebook? Can I see the cover? Oooh, lucky…” Unfortunately, I didn’t decorate the cover of that writer’s notebook, but my student still seemed to like it.

I was reminded today that writing with my students and getting caught in the writing process along my students is worthwhile . So here’s a little something of what I’m came up with…

I’m thankful for…

the blank pages that welcome my pen

avocados from costco, no matter the price

the songs that resonate in my soul

the warm blankets that I can snuggle underneath on a cold winter day

genuine smiles

getting paid to do what i love

my blog readers!

unexpected gifts

my family that supports me no matter how far apart we are

books that i can’t put down until i’m finished with it

my students from the past and the present

good friends that love me just as i am, no explanations needed

the excitement a student has in telling me about the book that they simply loved


answered prayers

slice of pumpkin pie, marshmallow yams and cranberry sauce

God’s unfailing love

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? 🙂

For more slice of life entries, go to Two Writing Teachers.

Write Down Your Idea!

As we strolled into Art Box, we immediately were drawn to the myriad of pretty notebooks that lined the shelves and tables.  I knew the minute we stepped in, it would be hard to leave empty handed, as we were two teachers in a stationary store full of notebooks, fancy pens and more. Trying to stay focused on our task of buying a birthday present for our friend, we started to look at the notebooks. After finding one suitable for our friend, we got side tracked. We were immediately drawn to this notebook at first. Loved it.


Then, we found these. They were perfect. Idea notebooks. Melody liked the black one and I chose the white one.  The writing teacher in us made it hard to resist a splurge on a new notebook! We justified the purchase by deciding that could start writing down all our wonderful teaching ideas and reflections. We could brainstorm ideas for our future teaching blog that we plan on making together. We could write down the funny thing our student said. We could stop and reflect on the exhausting, time consuming, and rewarding life of the teacher.



For more slice of life entries go to two writing teachers!

A Good Surprise

As my students lined up for lunch today, I noticed one of my students carrying a small, square notebook the size of his hand. I asked him what the notebook was for. He told me that he was going to write about the soccer game during recess. He already had written down a quote from one of the boys about playing soccer.  I was a bit surprised, but thrilled to see my student writing in this authentic way.

After lunch, I asked him to look at his notebook where he had written about the soccer game between the fourth and fifth grade boys. Every day when they play soccer, it is usually an intense game of sweat, action, and sometimes even tears. He had written a few pages about the soccer game. He included quotes  from the boys and important stats like who had the assists for the two goals. The other boys that played soccer were wanting to read what he wrote as well. It looks like I have a future news reporter in my class!

For more slice of life story entries go to: Two Writing Teachers

the praying mantis lives…

It is week two with our praying mantis as our unofficial classroom pet. It has been quite interesting to see the effect it has been having on our class. During recess time, a good handful of my students are very busy collecting and catching food for the praying mantis. They have caught grasshoppers, butterflies, dragonflies, and other insects from the field to feed it. They bring the praying mantis with it to lunch and recess, in it’s small plastic container. Two of the boys during our library visit last week were super excited about finding books on the praying mantis. A few of my students wrote about the praying mantis in their writer’s notebook. Here is an excerpt I liked:

“and other children ran fast as possible, but they were no match for dragonflies’ extremely fast wings.  …

He suddenly swung the net like a baseball bat. It hit the dragonfly in the head. The dragonfly’s head went flying. He thought it was dead, but I said to just put it in the praying mantis’ cage. He did. The headless dragonfly was moving. Its legs and belly was moving quickly. I read in a book that dragonfly’s body is different from human’s.  Then, the deadly-insect predator snatched the headless prey and ate it happily. The praying mantis looked very happy.”

I loved this poem that another student wrote in their writer’s notebook:


fly fly butterfly

don’t be snatched by mantis

don’t be snatched by bird

fly fly butterfly

don’t die in the rain

don’t die in the snow

fly fly butterfly

fly through the fresh air!

There have been some good teachable moments with the praying mantis. I’m thinking that it will fit in nicely with our unit on ecosystems in science, especially when we are studying the food web. However, it’s cage is starting to smell.

For more slice of life entries go here: http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com