* Murder and mayhem

Maybe it’s just me, but when I saw this sign, I immediately thought of murder and mayhem.  Perhaps I’ve read too many legal thrillers.  What about you?   Doesn’t it seem a bit odd?   That’s my impression, so I’m entering it in Cee’s Oddball Challenge.  I would bet there’s a gentler way of advertising cemetery spaces.


For those of you who might not know, this is BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE.

* Christopher and me: not so fast

I’ve been sharing my efforts to help my nephew, Christopher, a kiddo on the autism spectrum (aka, A Sweet Dude).  He has a reading profile similar to many ASD kids I’ve taught: tremendous word recognition and fluency with weak vocabulary and comprehension.  Christopher entered 4th grade this year (having been retained once already) with a 2+ year discrepancy between word recognition and comprehension.  His reading performance was recently assessed at school and voilà!  Christopher has gained more than a year’s growth in reading since we began our sessions!  

But before we break out the champagne, let’s examine the data provided by the school. Christopher has a “scale score” of 142 and the cut-off is 139; his score is even above his district average for third graders.  But a scale score on what?  It’s likely to be an mClass assessment called TRC, which uses the Fountas and Pinnel reading levels.  How is the parent supposed to know?  How could a parent advocate for their child on the basis of this information?  There is not a single clear reference to the test, which has now successfully removed “the retained reading label.”  Well, that’s a relief!  A second relief is that Christopher “will now remain with [his] current classroom teacher and take the 4th grade EOGs at the end of the year.”  That’s good news/bad news?

I do know that Christopher has made marvelous progress in reading, so why my sarcasm?  In 2012, North Carolina initiated the Read to Achieve program designed to reduce social promotion of students not reading at grade level by third grade.  Statistically, if kids aren’t proficient by then, they are at risk for school drop out.  But the devil’s in the details.  And you wouldn’t believe the details.  Here’s a link to those details, which are amazingly convoluted even to me- and I’m familiar with the convoluted world of education.  In an Op-Ed piece published by the News and Observer in June, 2015, a teacher is quoted as saying, “It is a dark day to be a third grade teacher in North Carolina.”  The writers, Robert Smith and Scott Imig, take NC to task for the unintended effects of Read to Achieve, such as high rates of anxiety among third graders and teacher ratings of strong negative effects on reading.

The bottom line: Christopher is making speedy progress in our sessions, but I’m not sure the school has proved it.     




* Dusting off my blogging mojo

Hmm.  My blogging mojo disappeared between health challenges, work, and a mini-vacation.  I am trying to restore it, so thanks again to Cee for her wonderful challenges.   Yes, I just completed this challenge for LAST week, but now I’m on a roll.

What are you really glad you did yesterday?  I scheduled a post for today so I didn’t wake up with old mojo-less stuff on my blog.  Oh yeah!  I am so pleased with myself!  I already have a spiffy new post ready to pop out at 12:05 AM!  Woohoo!  I feel that mojo!

Would you prefer a one floor house or multiple levels?  I love multiple levels so I can toss everything upstairs when people come over.  Cleaning hack: use crime scene tape to keep folks from wandering.

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Have you done something you truly want to do today?   Yes!  I went swimming. I prayed a lot.  I ate gobs of chocolate.

What plans did you have as a teenager that didn’t happen? Are you happy it didn’t work out that way?  I wanted to die and I’m sooooooooooooooooo glad that none of my attempts succeeded.  I am more than happy about that!

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?   I am grateful for a quick but fun trip to the Virginia mountains with our son and his wife last weekend.  We laughed a lot, ate a lot, and they patiently sat in the car while I took photos.  I am now looking forward to a women’s retreat this weekend.  I will be shot if I pull out my phone, so no photos from that adventure.

* Tiny Tap’s terrific online courses

Tiny Tap takes online learning to a new level with curated Tiny Tap Courses!  Now teachers and parents can combine lessons to create seamless learning units!  Competency can be determined by requiring students to reach a certain score before advancing to the next lesson or continuous practice is available without requiring a minimum score.  Students also earn certificates as they complete courses.  Here’s a look at how phonics instruction can be personalized by grouping skills for particular students.  With over 80 thousand available lessons, comprehensive instruction is a tap away!

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Tiny Tap’s lessons and units are available in 30 languages and offer personalized instruction on a wide range of topics.  In case you’d forgotten, Tiny Tap offers parents and teachers insights on individual and class performance while providing differentiated learning experiences for students.  Tiny Tap is a terrific resource for special needs students with a wide range of needs.

If all that isn’t enough, what about making money while you individualize instruction?  Here’s the Tiny Tap teacher-driven economy.  You gotta love it!


I could easily imagine a social skills unit for my dear Christopher.  I think it’s time for me to start tapping!


* Sun Shining On Fall Leaves

Look at the beauty of creation! Amy has captured the essence of autumn.

The World Is a Book...


Such a scenic drive near Santa Fe, New Mexico! Photos were taken with iPhone 6+.

WPC: Shine

Thank you so much for visiting.🙂

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* A Most Reluctant Princess

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Jean Cogdell has written another 5 star winner, this time for thoughtful young girls who ponder their future.  As Amy considers her potential careers, including doctor, artist, president, and fairy, clear and gentle illustrations by Ashley Bauer capture the splendid role-playing of this imaginative child.  The sweetest message in this book is based on Amy’s secure love from her parents, especially her dad.  He calls her “his little princess” and Amy delights in being swept off the ground into his arms.  Her mother’s arms also hold this precious girl tight, reminding her that she has plenty of time to follow her dreams.  Cogdell has written this book in rhyme, with the soothing repetition that should make this a delightful bedtime story.  For older readers, there are other issues to ponder, such as the weight of a crown and throne. This book is sure to inspire girls and boys alike to enjoy creative play, while acknowledging that love is the foundation for any happy future.

A Most Reluctant Princess is available from Amazon.

* Elderly Man Pines For Lost Dog

Thanks to Bob at Cabbages and Kings for leading me to Skinny and Single, who led me to this dear old man and his dog.  I hope the dog has been returned by now!

Skinny and Single

mmrmissingdog0121jpg-jpg-size-custom-crop-851x650I was on Facebook today and found this story on the Toronto Star. It details the story of an 80 year old man named Karl Daniels and his dog Kimbo. Kimbo is a little 10 year old miniature pinscher boxer mix.

Who cares right? Well, everyone should.

The little dog went missing. The little dog was picked up by the Toronto Humane Society. The little dog was adopted by a family.

The family said they were too attached to the dog to return him to his rightful owner. They had the dog for three days, days, not years, days. DAYS.

You heard me, right?

I’m not sure what type of people are so selfish that they refuse to return the dog to his owner. They are sad, pathetic, inhuman pricks.

One of the few things Karl remembers is his dog, he has dementia and his dog is his best friend…

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* A Legacy

Lizzi has written a powerful message on legacy, as she and her family bid farewell to their Nana.  I can’t adequately capture Lizzi’s passionate writing, so please head over to her blog and read for yourself.

Lizzi concludes her post with these questions: What would you like to be remembered for? Have you ever wondered about life, whilst commemorating its passing? Who makes you thankful to be alive and learning? 

My dearest teaching widower and I are nearing the statistically likelihood of our deaths, although we’ve all learned that age is no protection from the inevitable.  Before I was saved, I simultaneously wanted to die and thought I would live forever.  I no longer fear or long for death.  Well, I admit there are hard times when I cry out, “Jesus, beam me up!”

I want to be remembered as a lover.  A lover of Jesus, first.  A lover of my husband.  A lover of my relatives and my church family.  A lover of thousands of students.


I do wonder about my eternal life and especially the new earth.  Will dogs and cats be able to speak?  Will I be able to stay next to Jesus while I also explore the galaxies with my dearest widower?  Can I re-negotiate the marriage deal then?  I never want to be away from my dearest widower.  Will there be toilets and will we need them?

Who makes me thankful to be alive and learning?   God.  If not for his intervention, I would have died in infancy and many times after that.  I’ve experienced a multitude of brushes with death, and here I am, by his grace.

If you do not have this faith, I sound stupid.  I used to tell a therapist (who did not have this faith, either), that religion was a just crutch for the weak.  I mocked anyone who believed in God.  The name of Jesus made me sick.  How could God allow the destruction of my soul?  Where was he during all those dreadful years?  Now I acknowledge my weaknesses and ask, “How could God have redeemed my soul and saved me from death?  Why me?”   Now I know where he was and see what he was doing.  It makes me want to shout for joy!


* Cee’s Share your World challenge

Cee is such an inspiration to me and although I am WAAAY late in this week’s SYW challenge, here goes.  Thanks to Chris from 61 Musings for the questions!

If you wanted to de-clutter where you live, what room / space would you start with?  (And why, if you’re feel like admitting to it.)  After I retired from fulltime teaching (don’t ask me how I have ended up teaching full time again!), I created a “teacher supply” room for all the essentials which I couldn’t give up.  True, I left a massive amount of teaching supplies at my last school, but I couldn’t relinquish everything.  For a month or so, this space was reasonable by my low standards, but now it could be featured on Hoarders reality TV.  It’s impossible to walk from one side of the rom to another without falling over.  No, I am not including a photo.  I DO want to reclaim the room but the tyranny of the urgent (lesson plans, eating pomegranates, etc.) keeps me stirring the pot of debris.

If you want to remember something important, how do you do it (sticky note on the fridge, string around your finger, etc.), and does it work?  I have to write something on my hand in indelible ink.  I remember going to a pharmacy staring at the letter Q on my hand.  I found other things to buy, of course, but nothing beginning with a Q.  As I waited in a long line, I chatted to folks around me and explained my dilemma: I needed this for school tomorrow.  What a helpful group they were!  Q-tips were on everyone’s mind.  Quarters or a quarter of something, quarts of something, quills (I had those, thank you).  What do you think it was? 

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If you could create a one room retreat just for yourself, what would be the most important sense to emphasize:  sight (bright natural light, dim light, etc.), hearing (silence, music, fountain, etc.), smell (candles, incense, etc), touch (wood, stone, soft fabrics, etc.), or taste (herbal tea, fresh fruit, etc.)?  Definitely touch.  I want to feel fuzzy blankets or comforters, furry teddy bears, a soft couch, and my cuddly teaching widower.

If you could interview one of your great-great-great grandparents, who would it be (if you know their name) and what would you ask?  On my father’s side, I am afraid they would be horrific people, having perpetrated generations of alcoholic, crazy, and violent folks.  On my mother’s side, they would be poor folks with broken relationships and alcoholism.  I’d rather not talk to any of them.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?   I am grateful for feeling HEALTHY and returning to the swimming pool.  I am looking forward to a women’s retreat next weekend, knowing that we will experience the power of the Holy Spirit!  Woohoo!