Be Kind to Yourself

Teachers: We are exhausted, we are excited, we are fearful. Welcome to the 2016 testing season!!

Today was the first day of standardized testing at the elementary school where I work.  Teachers arrived early to check out testing supplies.  Parents crowded the car rider lines, dropping students off a good 15 minutes before their arrival time.  All campus faculty and staff were smiling as they greeted each other in the hallway.  Everything was looking optimistic…until it wasn’t.


Image courtesy

I want you to understand that I have a love/hate relationship with this time of the year.  You see, I am competitive. And I like to get evaluations on how well my students master learning objectives.  So test taking for me, is sort of exciting  please do not judge me too harshly—there is a big but coming.)  BUT, I am here to tell you that I am exhausted. And I bet you are too.  My excitement and fear are coexisting in a very tiny place.  I have faith that I have done everything in my educational power to push the students toward success, but fear is creeping in on me. And like every year at this, I am beginning to doubt myself.  Fear is a much darker friend than optimism.  I don’t like fear.  It makes me weak and indecisive.  Fear makes my stomach hurt, and my head hurt too. And to tell you the truth, now I want to cry.  But, I don’t cry because I can handle this. I am the teacher, and teachers don’t cry. Period. But sometimes, the kids do.

And so cry some kids did today, before their tests were being passed out to them, before they arrived at school, even before they went to bed last night.  You know students like this. They over obsess about failure instead of nurturing their confidence.   You see them in your classes each day succeeding, learning, growing.  But today is the day of the big test. And  you can hardly recognize these students today. They act like a totally different, terrified kid that you didn’t know before yesterday. And for these reasons, I really hate standardized testing. And I bet you do too.

Last week I was in a bookstore, and I happened upon a book written by the Vietnamese Buddhist Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh.  I am not a Buddhist, but I love the idea of Zen.  The book was about facing fears.  I read the book today after school because I saw a lot of fear and anxiety on campus today.  Guess what? I feel better now. So much so that I thought I would share what I learned today.

View of the rain

I learned that it is better to acknowledge anxieties, and replace them with emotions that are kinder to our souls.  I was re-taught that positive and negative emotions coexist inside all of us.  Hanh wrote that being in the moment and not worrying about the future, or grieving about past events, will allow our thoughts to be focussed on the tasks at hand.  You have probably read these thoughts before. I mean they are pretty common mindsets.  After my reading today, I was thinking that yes, I know how to self-soothe. But have we taught these survival skills to our students? Or have we assumed they were already equipped with these skills? Or do we not even see these skills as part of our curriculum?

I don’t want to sound too idealistic and “out-there.” And I say these things with respect and with all seriousness. Maybe something as simple as thinking positively and replacing our negative self-descriptions with positive thoughts, would be an effective way to retrain our students to be kind to themselves.  Practicing self-kindness could be revolutionary in situations that are high stress—for us and for our kids.

What if we teachers modeled this type of self-reflection for our families, students, and coworkers?  Our environments can be more peaceful, and potentially more productive.  

We know that testing is not going away any time soon.  I also know that tomorrow, round two of testing will bring more tears and anxious stomachs.  We say that we believe in ourselves, and we can do it (whatever the “it” might be). But how do we cast off the negative emotions and doubts?  Tomorrow I will be taking deep breaths with the student testers.  I will be modeling how to take an internal dialogue of doubt, and replace the unkind with gentler self-descriptors.  When it’s time to do something difficult, test or other, maybe they will be able to choose to be kind to themselves, just like their teacher has taught them.


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Creating Artists

A Field Trip to the Horlock House


A couple of weeks ago, a gaggle of students and I made the hike to a local art museum located just a couple of blocks from our school.

Our little town is unique in the fact that we have a museum  hosting three artists in residence at our very own Horlock House.  I needed to find a field trip for our students that did not cost much money, but that would also be intellectually stimulating for them. The Horlock House fit the bill.  Not only was it free to visit, but it was also within walking distance of our school—a perfect field trip destination.

The artists of the house were welcoming.  I had already created a plan for the day with Mr. Scotty Gorham, the neon artist in residence, and I had stopped by earlier to drop off some cookies and bananas so the students would have a snack for later. (Teacher tip:  Always have snacks!)  The kids were excited to meet: Scotty, Andrea Edwards and Steve Knotts.  All of these newly-friended artists create their art through different media at the Horlock House.  Andrea is a skilled photographer from Washington state.  Steve is a realistic painter and native Texan.  And Scotty is a neon artist from… well I am not quite sure.


The day began with a presentation by Scotty talking about neon art and the different gases used to create the color effects.  The kids were mesmerized by the lights. And through our discussion, Scotty talked about this art form as being both ordinary and extraordinary! He spoke to the students and called this art form very “American,” and explained his process for creation and installation.  It was like attending an art lecture, but with the benefit of actually seeing, touching, and understanding the art!

Horlock-House-PhotographyNext, Miss Drea talked to the students about creating art using photosensitive paper and the sun.  She even allowed the students to create their own art using leaves that we collected.   After a sweet intermission, we brushed away the cookie crumbs from our hands and looked at Steve’s artwork. He had quite a bit to say about the elements of his craft, about the lines and details of his paintings.  The children listened and asked about his process as we sat lounging on the floor.  The experience was very sophisticated, and yet very casual at the same time.  I was worried about going to a museum because sometimes artists can be uptight, or restrictive. But, not these guys.  These artists were encouraging, enthusiastic and passionate about their art.  Our students absorbed these sentiments that day, and were ready to take up careers in art. As the teacher, I LOVED it!

Most of the students on the field trip had never even heard of the Horlock House, and they have lived in the town their entire life.  For some of the students, the visit to the museum was their first exposure to art in a formal setting.  It is strange that sometimes we overlook the most unusual gems in our own backyards.


After a picnic in the backyard with the artists, and visits with a kitty cat the kids renamed Burnt Toast, the kids promised they would return to visit the Horlock House over the holidays with their parents. I hope they did.

The exposure that students have to art in our schools is minimal these days. But when you think about it, the art we learned about at the Horlock House involved science, electronics, math, reading, writing and even history.  I feel that we are working in an educational system that often overlooks the value of art and creativity.  When we start to omit art, we stop creating artists. And I am not just talking about the painters and photographers.  Think about the art of engineering. We under serve future generations if we don’t teach students how to create, and if we allow them to believe that science and engineering are not in some way artistic.

So today friends, I encourage you to take your students to a museum.  Encourage them to be artistic.  Encourage them to create, instead of just to remember facts and figures and parts of speech.

As one of the world’s most famous scientists said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” – Albert Einstein

Thank you to the Horlock House and the artists in residence for reminding this teacher how important art education can be in our schools.


Want to learn more about the importance of art in child development? Just follow the link!

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The Educator’s Balanced Diet Blog

At the end of this school year, I felt mentally and physically exhausted.  I had one of the best years in my teaching profession, but I had worked really really hard.  I missed my family, I missed my reading, I missed having free time.  I was so busy working last year, that I “missed” many things.  My French tribe decided that we should take  a beach vacation. I was very pleased at the thought of a beach getaway, but I was overweight and wanted to wear a bikini this summer.  How could I shed this excess weight before we left?  I was running out of time.


Because we are educator’s, we meet many people each year, and we get personal pretty fast.  We meet new staff members and their children, we have new students and their siblings, and we meet new families each year.  When I teach, I want to show that I care about people, so I ask those that I encounter questions like, “How are you doing today,” “What did you have for supper last?”  Sometimes the answers are pleasant and easy, but other times you get responses that are disturbing, or sad.  What if someone did not eat last night because there is no food in the house?  (This is the difficult part of education.)  Teachers care about  people.  Teachers listen, and try to help guide people in a positive direction, otherwise these people would be in a different profession. I consume what people say to me.  I think about students, teachers, and peers long after they have left the conversation.  Last year, I consumed too much, and I was overweight at the start of summer vacation.  

Be mindful about what you consume, or it will consume you.  

Once vacation time began, I was burned-out.  I had consumed too much:  joy, grief, love, hate, work and exhaustion, for my mind and body to handle.  I was fat.  I was unhappy and exhausted.  I knew that I had to make a change, and began to think about the Educator’s Balanced Diet.

As in all good meal plans, the key to managing weight is moderation.  I realized that I was consuming things that were not healthy for me, too much junk food was in my diet, from too many people.  I had not had enough spiritual food in my last few months, and I was feeling sluggish.  I did not love my neighbors as I loved myself.  I had not honored my son and husband the way they needed to be honored. I had a problem and I realized I needed to fix it!


Consume more love, peace, happiness, laughter, and light;   allow those positives to consume you.

I needed a better diet, so I became a picky eater this summer, and let me tell you, I have lost a significant amount of weight.  I chose activities this summer that helped me unplug from my profession.  I did not spend countless hours at my school working on curriculum, but precious hours with those that I love.  I cat-napped.  I laughed a bunch.  I danced and sang under stars.  I realized that I possessed the power to accept, or decline consumption, and it felt great!

So, educators and advocates for education, here we find ourselves at the start of a new year.  I am making  beginning of school resolutions (you are my witnesses!), and I hope that you will help me keep them, I resolve:  to consume a balanced diet, spend more time with those that I love instead of working at school all the time, I resolve to laugh more and share my joy, more purposefully with others.  I resolve to keep the weight off, physically and metaphorically.  It’s going to be a tough battle, but a balanced diet is important to keep us teachers healthy.

Be mindful about what you consume, because later, it WILL consume you.


Friends, how can you find your peace this year?  Consider doing things that bring you the most joy in life.  Love your family, and focus on the positives that they bring you.  Read books that are enjoyable, not just informational.  Eat your veggies, but have apple pie with, or without ice cream.  Leave school before 6:00 PM!

Let’s welcome our new group of people in August with a warm hug, and a happy heart.  Welcome little hands, and squeaky new shoes.  When we see our students, remember that they want YOU to adore them, teach them, praise them.  We must take care of ourselves as much as we care for our students.  I ask you, what will you resolve to do, or be this year to positively impact your life?  It’s time to get healthy, and we can make this journey together.  Let’s resolve together, let’s consume a balanced diet…

Have a fantastic 2015-2016 school year!


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The Best Worst Librarian Ever

An open letter from the best worst librarian

Dear Big Wide World,

The 2014-2015 school year ended with me beginning and ending my career as a librarian.  It’s true… I will not be the librarian at Navasota Intermediate anymore.  I have switched schools and changed job positions. I will now be the Chief Literacy Advisor, aka the Literacy Cruise Director, as I like to call it, for a PK-5 elementary school!  I have spent the last couple of weeks packing all my stuff and moving schools, and that my friends is no easy feat.

After finishing this year, along with this move, I found myself simply exhausted, bone-weary, maybe even a little fragile.  My family and I took a beach vacation to find our repose, and I finally am able to reflect about the past year of school and  my job as the librarian.  Here’s why I think I was truly the worst librarian ever!

As you may, or may not, have heard, I kidnapped the entire Diary of a Wimpy Kid series from the library.  I was tired of the students fake-reading the books, and then coming back to the library day in and out to check out yet another book they would never read.  By kidnapping the books and holding them out of circulation, students checked out books that were on their level that they would actually read. Reflecting back, that was shameful. But, with a little help from this, the worst librarian ever, every child found a book they could… and more importantly would read. And it made them want to read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books even more!

Kathryn-French-ShelvesThe second reason why I am the worst librarian is that I am terrible about shelving books.  It was just a fact that the library had stacks and jumbles of tumbling books, that were in constant need of reshelving.  I just could not find the time to organize books in their proper places.  All those days running in and out of classrooms, and rocking on the big purple bench with my little friends does gobble up a bunch of time.  The sweet lady, Sarah Martin, who helped me last year, would walk through the door of the library and would audibly moan, while rolling her eyes at the stacks of misplaced books.  I am truly sorry, Mrs. Martin.

The custodians must have thought me horrible. The library carpets were often covered in pink glitter trails and chalkdust.  I promise we tried to clean up after our games and poetry readings.  To the custodians, and our principal, thank you for being forgiving. The students and faculty really had some good times in our little library.

I am most ashamed of my inability to keep library secrets.  Even though I knew that our Friday Secret Society of Reader meetings were a secret, I posted, tweeted, filmed, and shared our events every chance that I had. And you know what? I am secretly so glad that I did!  So students, please forgive me for having so much fun with you this year.  #SecretSocietyOfReaders

I know without a doubt that I will miss you because I already do.

What I also know without a doubt, is that I will remember you.  You made my FIRST and LAST year as the librarian magical.  For all of those that I had interaction with, please forgive me. I am truly sorry and I humbly repent.

Kathryn-French-KidsI guess that what I have learned this is year was that, although I might have been the worst librarian in certain stereotypical ways, maybe I became the best librarian that sought out the right books for students… and even for the staff.  Maybe instead of falling into the traditional librarian role, I found my true calling helping others learn to love reading and also to find a love for writing.  Perhaps I was not the worst librarian in the world, after all. Just maybe I would call myself a little quirky, and a little thoughtful, and full of love for kids and books. And hey, that’s not so bad… Is it?

I send a warm thank you to the district, our administrative staff, faculty, and teachers, for trusting me to mind and mentor these incredible kids.  Here’s to another year, in a slightly different role!  I’ll try my best to make you proud!

Also be reminded that I shall remain the head librarian at Come visit me anytime for fresh books and literacy chats. I hope to see you there!


The Best Worst Librarian, Chief Literacy Advisor, aka the new Literacy Cruise Director,
Ms. Frenchie-Fry

Kathy French

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Book Prom 2015 Was a Success!

As you may have heard, we hosted a Book Prom in Navasota last Friday, and man, did we HAVE FUN!

Fun at Book PromThe #SecretSocietyOfReaders decorated the library and moved out the tables and books to create a dance floor for our readers.  When the students arrived to the library, they signed in with their “book date,” and strutted down the royal blue carpet.  Students were dressed in their finest clothes, and some students dressed up their books too.

Students and teachers were invited to attend Book Prom, and even the Mayor of Navasota, Texas attended the celebration!  After walking the carpet our kids had their Book Prom, posed pictures taken in front of a city backdrop.  Guests were then treated to a donated breakfast, and after eating settled themselves for the welcoming ceremony presented by:  Sarah Martin, Kevin Bradford and Kathryn French.

Talking StickEach student was given the talking stick, to introduce the book that they chose to take to the prom.  Some parents and visitors, even shared their favorite books that they would take to the Book Prom.  It was indeed a splendid moment to hear adults from our school district, and community, speak about their love of literacy with our student learners.

After the book talks, students voted on which book they thought deserved to be the Book Prom King or Queen.  While volunteers scrambled to tally the votes, students danced and did the “Wobble “with their books.  I was one happy librarian to watch kids dance, the library was alive with positive energy, and  celebration!

Students were so excited to have a Skype chat with the wonderful librarian, artist, explorer and book lover!  We discussed our favorite books and what we wanted to be when we grow up.  Ms. Miller was kind enough to encourage our students to keep reading.  She introduced our students to fresh new books, books that we had not heard of before.  Our kids had a blast!

Book Prom 2015 King and QueenWhen the moment arrived to crown the Prom King and Queen…we all waited, quiet with anticipation…the winners were for:  Prom King was the book, Wonder, written by RJ Palacio and the Prom Queen was Divergent, written by Veronica Roth!  Of course, those were the MOST popular books in the library this school year!  We were all excited.

Tomorrow is Friday, the second to last Friday of the 2014-2015 school year.   So many of our #SecretSocietyOfReaders have asked if we will be meeting tomorrow, they want to get together again before summer vacation to talk about what they are reading.  I will miss our secret meetings that are no longer a secret, but I do not believe that I can beat our Book Prom Friday.  The readers will just have to wait until next year, which I guarantee you, will be BIGGER and BETTER than this year!  Book Prom 2015 was a success, my hope is that readers will be inspired to host mini Book Prom in their classrooms in celebrations of literacy.  It has been a wonderful year. -K


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Book Prom 2015!

Just Tag It—#BookProm

Summer is almost here! And let’s be clear, these students and teachers want to have some fun. What better way to have fun—and sneak in some literacy—than to have a Book Prom?

With my favorite book and fancy dress, I will be attending prom this year… #BookProm!
Many of our students have older siblings who went to prom this year, and their parents posted pretty pictures all over social media of prom-goers in all of their finery. I thought that a Book Prom would give parents the chance to dress up the little ones, and give us a chance to talk about books while getting some incredible photographs, too!

The first step in attending the prom is to find your date. Your date is not a person. At Book Prom, your date is your favorite book from all the books you read this year. In our school, students have kept reading logs, so remembering what they read throughout the year is a snap. The book selection process offers an opportunity for kids to engage parents and teachers about literature. In those conversations, teachers can prompt students to think about characters, settings, and conflict. It’s a great chance to help bring literature to life for them. Our kids will be working through an end of year literacy review, and they won’t even know it!

After students decide who to take to the prom, they must be able to discuss their date with others and try to convince fellow students to vote for their date as Prom King or Prom Queen, depending on the gender of the main character. Students will discuss with the prom participants the parts of the book that were memorable to them. After discussion, I write the book titles on a poster, and each student gets to cast one vote for their favorite title.

I have learned over the years that the best way to help kids read is to get their peers to recommend what they like, just like I am always interested in what the coolest and smartest adults are reading! A peer-to-peer book suggestion is a better method for getting kids to read and for helping them grow their literary interests. When the students have finished all their presentations, the kids dance while I tally the votes for king and queen.

Follow the dress code

Please follow the dress code 🙂

I am so excited to say that the Book Prom will be the most stylish event of the school year. Students are encouraged to dress up in their fanciest attire, and the best dressed student will be recognized at the end of Book Prom. The dress-up piece of the prom celebration is my favorite part, because the students look so handsome and beautiful! Teachers don’t normally see their students sharp-dressed, and believe it or not, the majority of students love to dress nicely! When discussing student/teacher attire, I always include the school disclaimer: “All clothing must adhere to school dress code policies. These policies will be enforced.”

As a librarian and teacher of reading, I am always looking for ways to incite a passion for reading within students. Putting together a prom party to celebrate books was just another sneaky trick to coax students to read more books. I love the prom celebration preparation process. Students get the chance to talk with family and teachers about what they read and analyze what they have read over the course of the year. They prepare themselves to speak persuasively to others about their favored book, and then they get to use what they learn about books they may or may not have read to vote for the title of Prom King or Prom King. For me it’s the perfect storm for literacy circles.

You’re Invited!

Want to see how Book Prom works in real life? Well you’re in luck! Show up at my little library in Navasota, Texas this Friday, May 15, 2015, at 8:30 am and bring your best book of the year as your date!

Use the Tag #BookProm!

Book Prom is centered around helping build literacy and love for reading. This prom will be a memorable way to end the school year, and celebrate our kids. If you can’t make it to my little library in Navasota on Friday, you can easily host your own Book Prom wherever you may be. Make sure to use the hashtage #BookProm on your pictures, posts, and tweets. That way we can all enjoy each other’s awesome celebrations of literacy!

Using #BookProm will allow students and teachers all over the world to see your innovative ideas in action! See you at the Book Prom on Friday. I CANNOT WAIT!
#BookProm rocks!

Invitation to Navasota Book Prom

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All you need is love

O’ How I Love The Book, brown girl dreaming…

I LOVED the book brown girl dreaming. The book was written from the perspective of a young lady in 1960s to 1970s America, who is searching for her place to belong, and looking for her voice, which she finds by the way, using the written word.

I read through the book and dog-eared a couple of memorable pages.  I thought it might be interesting to record some of the stand out moments that made me fall in love with this author and her lovely mind.    I thought that I might share some of those moments with you, if I may.  I will surely use these quotes to incite imaginative learning/thinking with my middle school students, maybe you will too.


“Somewhere in my brain
each laugh, tear and lullaby
becomes memory.” page 20

“We all have the same dream, my grandmother says.  To live equal in a country that’s supposed to be the land of the free.

She lets out a long breath,
deep remembering.” page 89

“When Daddy’s garden is ready
it is filled with words that make me laugh
when I say them-
pole beans and tomatoes, okra and corn
sweet peas and sugar snaps
lettuce and squash.” page 97

“and stars
and tears
and hope.” page 106

“But our hearts aren’t bigger than that.
Our hearts are tiny and mad.
If our hearts were hands, they’d hit.
If our hearts were feet, they’d surely kick somebody!” page 128

“The first time I write my full name
Jacqueline Amanda Woodson
without anyone’s help
on a clean white paper in my composition notebook,
I know
if I wanted to
I could write anything.” page 156

“I am not gifted.  When I read, the words twist
twirl across the page.
When they settle, it is too late.
The class has already moved on.

I want to catch words one day.  I want to hold them
then blow gently
watch them float
right out of my hands.” page 169

“And in the darkened auditorium, the light
is only on Hope
and it’s hard to believe he has such a magic
singing voice
and even harder to believe his donkey is going to come running.” page 233

“I want to write this down, that the revolution is like
a merry-go-round, history always being made
somewhere.  And maybe for a short time,
we’re a part of that history.  And then the ride stops
and our turn is over.” page 309

“Write down what I think I know.  The knowing will come.
Just keep listening…” page 310

“I believe in one day and someday and this
perfect moment called Now.” page 318

“When there are many worlds
you can choose the one
you walk into each day.” page 319

“Jackie and Jacqueline-
gather into one world
called You
where You decide
what each world
and each story
and each ending
will finally be.” page 320

This book is written in free verse, the words poetically dance themselves across the pages.  The characters in the novel are a part of my memory now, forever, the author Jacqueline Woodson, even includes a family tree and includes photographs from her personal albums, allowing readers to bridge their invented imaginations of the family, with actual snapshots of real family members.

I would suggest using this novel to model the writing process for students.  Woodson writes about the processes of how we observe, think and record personal narratives, with a graceful, and pure voice.  By writing this novel, Jacqueline Woodson offers herself as a role model for young ladies, especially African-American young ladies, encouraging these ladies to follow their dreams, just like she did.

I LOVE the novel, brown girl dreaming.

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Kids and adults sitting on library floor

With Perfect Positivity, I Will Gladly Greet the Day

When I got to work this morning, I was not upbeat and smiling, like I usually try to be.  I absolutely hold true that a smiling face will greet a smiling face.  (When you give good, you get good back.) But today I am grumpy, and I said it out loud.

And I WAS grumpy, I will tell you the truth.  Thinking about all of the work that needed to be done today cast deep shadows over my face.  I was certain that I would not have enough time to fit everything in to my work day.  And just guess what, I did not have time to fit everything into the school day, or even two hours after my day ended.  And that was okay.

Somehow today, I was able to meet with teams of teachers that I LOVE, visit with students that needed someone to talk to, visited with teacher leaders that needed a little sunshine, dined with people that make me laugh everyday, and found just the right book for about 40 kids.  Thinking about my people-time made me smile.  Yes, I had paperwork to complete and writing samples to evaluate and they are tucked away in my schoolbag waiting on me, and I will be okay with that.  Here’s the BIG but (conjunction, not body part), it took me all day to get to this appreciation.  It took me until that late last bus arrived and picked up the 30-40 rowdy students at 4:12, talking with my peeps and a 30 minute drive to allow my soul to feel refreshed.

With perfect positivity, I will gladly greet the day, came to mind on my drive back home this evening. Teaching is unpredictable, I might have a bad day, but I will do my best NOT to.  Tomorrow when I see my teaching friends, and my friendly students I will smile, and utter nothing about grumpiness, with perfect positivity, I will gladly greet the day…then I will wait and see if that attitude makes a difference.

Or at least I will try to greet the day that way, and if it doesn’t work well, that is perfectly okay too.  Giggle giggle….

Optimistic O’ Fancy French

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Student writing with chalk on library floor

How Do You Teach a Student to Write?

It’s that time of the year when fourth grade teachers across the state of Texas are looking through student compositions and are worried, they wonder how their students are going to fare on the STARR test.  They sigh and ask themselves, “How do I teach my students to write?” I know those teachers, I was one of them for 17 years, now I get to look at the situation from the outside, and I have a different perspective about how to teach writing… just write, and write often.
I get questioned all the time about how to teach students to write, and not only just to write, but how to get them to write well.  I secretly smile when asked those questions, all educators know what to do…put the pencil to the paper and let words take over.  Just do it.  Simply stated, students and teachers alike need to be just brave enough to start writing a thought.  Thoughts, will lead to feelings, feelings will translate in to sentences, and pretty soon, you will have paragraphs.
Today in a writing class, I explained to the students that I do not like to always write and I do not always share my writing with others, I am super-critical of myself.  When I write I double, and triple check my spelling searching for errors, I question whether or not my writing is interesting enough for someone to read?  (I am doing this now as I type.)  Students share the same fears that us adults have, it’s hard to put yourself out there to be potentially judged by others.
Remember that the power of the pen is mighty.  As a teacher, I am very cautious about editing and revising student compositions.  I try not to make too many corrections, or suggestions, I want students to understand that I am their teacher, not their judge and jury.  Students are still learning their writing craft.  Children want to share, they talk all the time, as educators, we need to get them to use another form of communication…written communication.
I write these sentiments to offer a “shout out” to my writing friends and colleagues that may be worried about writing and exams, and perfecting the craft.  Writing doesn’t have to be perfect.  The intent of writing is to be expressive.  How do you develop strong writers?  Strong writers are created when they are nurtured, confident, and practiced.  You want to know how to get those students to write well…get those kids to put the pencil to the paper, they will make you proud!
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Secret society of Readers at Navasota Intermediate

O’ Fancy French and the Secret Society of Readers

This blog is for teachers, principals, and even parents that struggle with motivating their students/children to read.  I have been trying to come up with an idea that would entice our young learners to want to read more, and get together and talk about what they have read.  On our campus, we have developed a pretty perfect plan to get students to read more…nominate students to become a part of the Secret Society of Readers.

Kids meeting at the weekly secret society of readers meeting  The Secret Society of Readers is an organization that is TOP SECRET.  Students may not join the society, but must be invited.  I thought about how religious movements, civil rights movements and most societal upheavals began, and they share common threads, these movements began with small secret groups of people gathered together for a common goal.  Today I will share with you the TOP SECRET implementation plan that we will be using with our intermediate readers,  you may find yourself ready to accept an invitation to the Secret Society of Readers, if you are brave enough to undertake the challenge…


Reading is fun bird logo

Secret Society of Readers

Welcome to the Secret Society of Readers.  You were nominated to join our secret club for these reasons:  you love to read, you recommend books to others, you talk about the books that you read with your friends.  Once you accept this nomination to the Secret Society of Readers, you will be on a mission to secretly discover other readers, and persuade them to join the club.  Remember that this is a secret club, and not everyone will be invited to join because not everyone is passionate about reading.

Once you decide to join the Secret Society of Readers, you will be invited to attend the secret meetings that are held in the library on Friday mornings between the times of 8:30 to 9:00.  Only your parents and teachers need to know where you are going on Friday mornings, these meetings are TOP SECRET, and remember not everyone is invited to attend.

New invitees will be inducted into the Secret Society of Readers by special ceremony. (No cameras or videos allowed, we are after all a secret society.)  Upon arrival on Friday mornings you must bring the most current book you are reading, and be prepared to speak with others about your book.  You must also sign the secret, sacred SSR reading log. The meetings will be lead by the founders of the secret society, and their identities shall not be named.  Founders will travel far and wide to speak to the members.  Members should understand the importance of this society, and pass on the love of reading to future generations of people, thus ensuring a literate society for years to come.

Inductees will be given 3 invitation cards to deliver to 3 people, young or old, those cards will serve as an invitation to join the Secret Society of Readers.  Remember to choose your candidates wisely, for not all people are “True Readers.”  There are many dishonest readers roaming the world, and we only want the most loyal and devoted to be inducted to our secret society.  In order to receive an invitation people must:  love to read,  recommend books to others, talk about the books that they have read with other  friends.

The Secret Society of Readers truly hopes that you, as an inductee are prepared to accept the responsibility of belonging to such an important club.  You must attend meetings with an open mind and caring heart, and most importantly, keep this society safe from others that might corrupt it.   Your responsibility is large, are you prepared to accept the challenge?


Signing your name below indicates that you WILL accept this invitation to SSR.


Sign your full name: ___________________________________________

Date: _______________

Teacher’s signature: ___________________________________________

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