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Weekend of Fun

My first weekend of summer break was a blast!  I’m sure you understand how relaxing it is when you know that you have more than two days off in a row.

I spent about four hours at my neighborhood pool on Friday.  Talking to my sweet friend, Megan, who lives in the subdivision across the street (which shares my neighborhood pool) was a rare treat.  We teach at the same school, in the same department, but we rarely have time to chill together.  She taught me something new:  how to read while sitting in the pool.  Novel idea, eh?  I read a lot poolside as well!

I managed to finish the book later that evening.  I’ve got to say that this is one of my students’ favorite authors.  This book, in particular, ranks as her top three on my scale of favorites.

Friday night, I queued up the movie “Before I Fall” on Amazon Prime.  I’d just finished reading the book, which had hooked me from the opening chapter.

The movie pretty much stuck with the book.  It was your typical teenage movie . . . not bad.  Sad, though.

I turned off my alarm and slept in on Saturday.  It was my rest day from my workout program.  Just as I was getting up, M texted me to see if I wanted to go to the store with her.  I had different plans in mind and invited her over.  You see, it was the day I had set aside to do the “We Run Free Because of the Brave 4-Miler,” a virtual race hosted by Gone for a Run.

M went with me on my walk, and we had a lot of fun chatting.  Four miles seemed to fly by . . . except for the humidity and my sore ankle.  We were wiped out when we finished.

Check out my tank top.  It’s one of my favorite race shirts; the medium fit perfectly!  Sizing is sometimes tricky with these race shirts.

I was loving the calorie burn too!

After M left, I got cleaned up, and the Mr. and I went to see the movie, The Mummy.

I liked it, although the story line was a bit confusing at first.

Before the movie started, I saw promos for the USA show, Queen of the South.  It seemed like something I might like, so I looked for it on Netflix when we got home.

It tells the story of a female drug cartel leader.  I watched four episodes that night.  I finished with Season 1 and the first episode of Season 2 (this episode was On Demand) on Sunday.  It was that good.

Sunday wound up being a chill day.  The Mr. and I attended church.  There weren’t a lot of people there.  We suspect that the reason was because the bottom dropped out of the sky shortly before the service began.  The rain put the kibosh on my hopes for going to the pool . . .

Plan B:  Knitting while I watched TV on Sunday.  It wound up being a great day of rest!

I managed to get in a bit of baking (if you’d call it that).  Here’s a picture of the Peanut Butter and Honey Chewy Granola Bars I made.  The recipe can be found here.  They are chock full of peanut butter flavor and are simply divine!

Yeah, I can’t complain at all.  Summer break has started off well.  I’m getting much-needed rest and am still being productive in the process.

Dear Allison van Diepen

Dear Allison van Diepen,

It’s just your #fangirl, Auburnchick, with a little shout-out to one of the best YA authors around!

I wanted to share a story that I thought would make you smile.

First of all, you may remember that we exchanged emails in the spring after I wrote you to tell you how one of my students fell in love with The Vampire Stalker.  I blogged about it here.

I’m thrilled to tell you that I am raising another group of van Diepen fans in this year’s classes.

Today, when my sixth period class entered my room, one of my girls, “A,” stopped me and said, “Mrs. Auburnchick, I finished my book!”

I excitedly asked her to tell me the title.  I teach sixty students and often forget who has which book.

She proudly pulled out a copy of Snitch.

Our conversation continued:  “Mrs. Auburnchick, I’m going to have to read it again,” she said.

“Oh really,” I said.  “Did you enjoy it that much?”

She responded, “Well, parts of it confused me, so I need to read it over.”

My.

Jaw.

Dropped.

You see, I teach high school Intensive Reading.  I provide reading instruction to students who need extra support so they can pass our state reading exam and, thus, graduate.

For a student to recognize that he/she didn’t understand something and to take it further by coming up with a plan to improve comprehension is HUGE.  It’s what I, as a reading teacher, strive for.

The conversation didn’t end there.

She said, “I want to do research.”

I asked the obvious question, “Research about what?”

She said, “What made her write about gangs and drugs.”

Oh.

My.

Word.

I’m sorry, but in my world, students do not often research such things unless a grade depends on it.

#realtalk

I was beyond floored.

She asked me for help, and I told her we would work on it during the class’s silent reading time.

You should have seen her eagerness as we did bell work and fluency.

She sat on the edge of her chair and held up her book a couple of times…just as a reminder.

Finally, it was time, and I told her to pull up a chair.

The first thing we did was pull up your website.

She.

Was.

Amazed.

She immediately decided that the next book she wants to read is Takedown, which I own.

Duh.  I am, after all, a #fangirl.

Then, we started looking for information that would explain why you wrote the book Snitch.

We got distracted by the study guide we found, and I printed it out for her.  I told her that if she answered the questions from the guide, to check for comprehension, I would give her bonus points on a test.

She was thrilled.

Next, I asked her if she had Twitter and told her how awesome you are about responding to Tweets.

Her mom is somewhat strict and doesn’t allow her to Tweet.

#proudteacher

Still, she really wanted to ask you a question…immediately.

So, I pulled up my Twitter account…for educational purposes (in case Big Brother is reading).

I showed her how I “follow” you, and I typed my question.

You haven’t responded as of this writing.

I forgive you.

You have a family to take care of.

Just don’t wait too long.

I promised I’d share your response with her.

😉

Next, I suggested that she find you on Facebook.

Don’t be surprised if A starts following you there.

As we sat, she told me how she loved that you wrote poetry for the book, and that she connected to it personally because she likes to write poetry too.

Ms. van Diepen, do you know how monumental this is?

We have been working on making connections when we read…something struggling readers have to be taught explicitly to do.

Oh word, but my teacher heart was overjoyed!

Then, she spoke words that I insisted she share with you on Facebook.

She said,

She makes me want to write a book.

I.

Kid.

You.

Not.

Take a look at the sticky note I used to record her words…

Ms. van Diepen,

Thank you for writing relevant teen fiction.

Does it have cursing.

Yes.

Does it talk about gangs, drugs, and turf wars?

Yep.

Do my kids want to keep reading more and more?

A-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y.

It’s not because of the cursing, although that makes it more authentic.

It’s because of the subject matter and the way you paint realistic pictures.

Students think, when they enter my room, that they don’t like to read.

They quickly discover, through in-touch writers like yourself, that they’ve never had the right books placed in their hands.

Please keep doing what you’re doing.

You are making a difference in countless children’s lives by fueling a fire that feeds what I hope will develop into a lifelong passion for reading.

Sincerely,

Auburnchick

P.S.  I like the old cover of Snitch much better than the new one…grabs the kids’ attention.  You should tell your publishers this.  😉

In Their Words – Part 5

More book projects that my students completed at the end of the year (there will be one more post after this one, I think).

A popular book with my boys

Hands-down one of the most PROLIFIC and moving books I have ever read. EVERY teenager needs to read this. I can usually get my staunches non-readers all the way through this book because they CANNOT PUT IT DOWN.

When I see this, I think of the young lady who made it. She did not like to read. She was a very slow reader, as evidenced by the lines she made in the book to mark her stopping points (ugh!!!). She completely adored this book and told me constantly that I needed to read it when she finished. I did, and it made her day when she saw it on my desk, bookmark in place. To know that I was reading something SHE had recommended went miles toward healing what had been a strained student-teacher relationship. She came back to see me on her last day (she left for a trip a few days before school was officially over). I will forever love this young lady!

My students cannot put these books down (there’s a set of three), and I always seem to “lose” one or more of them during a school year. They relate to the setting and the characters’ problems. Although I’ve never read these books, I’ve heard that they are raw and very, very real. This young lady redid her project because she didn’t like the first version and didn’t want to show less than her best work when it was placed under the document camera for her presentation.

The student who read this book was one I never quite managed to connect with despite my various attempts…a fact that makes me very sad. He, as you can see, is a gifted artist. He was very, very intelligent and could analyze a book, its characters, and its various themes. He really liked this book. I need to buy it for my classroom.

Another Allison van Diepen book. Her books NEVER sit on my bookshelves. If you’ve never read her, please do. Follow her on Twitter. She is one of the nicest ladies ever and one I’m trying to find a way to have come down here to speak to my students.

Things That Have Kept Me From Blogging

It would seem as though, despite having much more time to blog, I have chosen, instead, to do other things.

A pictorial explanation follows…

Did someone say World Cup?

Shout-out to my main soccer squeeze for helping the U.S. advance to the round of 16!

My OWL (three-month project)…halfway finished…

A return to the gym…

Zombiesrun.com – GREAT way to keep my Zombies Run C25K app synched (that’s the playlist I used one day this week)

Best workout app ever (former iFitness)!!!! Sure beats carrying around a notebook, which I used to do to keep track of my reps!

Sixteen cans of tomatoes…for about thirty cents each after BOGO and a $1.00 off of four coupon (shout-out to Coupon Queen for sending me extra coupons!!)

Infinity Cowl

Two of my loves…

Southwestern Socks – A quick, five-day project!

Southwestern Socks

Online Shopping…courtesy of shophopes.com

Another shophopes.com dress! Please excuse the hair (freshly washed and, obviously, unfixed) and the background (must invest in a full-length, over-the-door mirror)

Teacher Training

Tweeting with one of my favorite authors…and feeling star-struck when she followed me…

Chatting it up with one of my favorite shows (please note that THEY tagged ME in this conversation!)

What’s kept you busy of late?

When a Student Breaks Up With a Book

Last week, one of my students experienced an emotionally distressing situation.

He had to break up with a book.

He had quickly fallen in love with her.

He had nurtured his love affair, meeting each daily rendezvous with anticipation.

He became more invested in the relationship with each page he turned…each word he read.

He couldn’t contain his feelings but made them known to everyone around him.

When he turned the final page and closed the back cover last Friday, it was with great sadness.

He held the book tenderly, refusing to part ways.

He wasn’t ready to say goodbye…just could not accept that the relationship had run its course.

He refused, at first, to look for a new relationship, feeling as though he would be cheating on his first true love.

I introduced him to a number of eligible partners, but he bucked.

Nobody could hold a candle to his former love.

My heart went out to him, even as I assured him that he would find love again, if only he was willing to open up his heart.

He’s giving it a valiant go, but I fear he’ll never be the same.

It is said that time heals all hurts.

We shall see.

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