Knock Out 3.0

It’s fun to think about the games I used to play as a kid and watch the way my students play them now. For instance, I remember the great fun of playing Knock Out at basketball camp each summer. It’s a fairly simple game. Everyone gets in line. The first two people have basketballs. The object is to make your shot before the person behind you does so that they don’t “knock” you “out.”

Today at recess, I was feeling especially sprightly (must have been the 60 degree weather and non-high heeled shoes), so I joined my boys in a game of Knock Out. My first turn up to the line I heaved up my shot, missed, and went to follow up but the student behind me already sank it from the foul line. Out already? Bah.

I walked to the side line to wait until the next game, when one of my students called, “Mrs. Greene, you still have three lives left.”

Perplexed, I asked, “Lives?”

“Yea. You know. Like video games… you started with four lives but you lost one so you have three left. You’re allowed to get back in line and keep playing.”

I didn’t argue or pull out the, “In my day…” statement, though I wanted to. I graciously accepted my offer to return and played the time away until my colleague blew the end of recess whistle. We never ended up with a winner. No one came close to loosing all of their lives. All of my boys were just happy to play non-competitively and I was glad to be brought up to speed.


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There is nothing quite like a quiet night at home. These days, they are so few and far between that I savor them like the chocolate under the hard Cadbury Mini-Egg shell (love those things!). After the hustle of teaching and the bustle of preparing for tomorrow, I’m happy to finally be home.

Tonight, I have spent my evening curled up on my couch next to my dogs and my husband, eating grilled cheese and tomato soup, watching America’s Funniest Home videos in between the last set of the top 36 American Idol Contestants. I have laughed aloud at people falling off tables and have booed with the audience when Simon said something mean. I have done nothing productive (excluding producing this idea for a slice) and for once, this isn’t bothering me in the slightest.

The other day while I was getting my hair cut, my stylist finally said to me, “Well I know you teach because that’s all you ever talk about, but what do you do for fun?” My answer? At first I thought read professional literature (which yes, I do find to be great fun, but I don’t think that’s what she’s asking for). Then design new interdisciplinary units of study popped in my mind. Write… Redesign my class website… Am I lame? Every answer that came to mind was school related.

It dawned on me because apparently I’ve never realized it before. School is my fun. Maybe it’s time for me to do something non-school related. And so, tonight’s evening of comfort food and mildly entertaining television came to be.

I finally have an answer for my stylist’s question. “I’m trying this new thing called relaxing. It’s quite nice every once in a while.”


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SOL: Reasons to Smile

It’s March 2nd. Applications for the graduate program at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were only due yesterday, though I submitted mine weeks ago. I talked myself into believing I wouldn’t hear anything until April, earliest. So imagine my surprise when I opened my mailbox and found an over-sized yellow envelope with a UNC- School of Education return address.

When I got back in the car from emptying the mailbox, Bret asked in his usually chipper voice, “What’d we get, hun?” My fingers were too busy ripping into the envelope to respond (miraculously though, no paper cuts). I pulled out the thin stack of papers. My mind was too busy scanning for “congratulations” for it to have figured out that any additional papers at all would have been a good sign.

“I got in!” The proud smile beamed across my face as I turned to my husband for a congratulatory hug.

Yea for Graduate School

“Huh? Got in what?”


“Carolina. Graduate School. I’m in!”

[Now it clicks] “I told you you had nothing to worry about. [a pause] Didn’t waste anytime with that envelope though.”

After phone calls to my parents and Bret’s parents and Facebook comments on my status (thanks friends!), I have many reasons to smile. I get to be a student again; I’m going to share my experiences and insights with other educators who want to further their education; best of all, I will learn and think more and so will my students. Master’s in K-12 Literacy, here I come!


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SOL: Ikea Kitchens

Kitchen RightI love Ikea. I think it’s the eclecticness (of both the furniture and shoppers) that lends itself to my enjoyment of these sparse trips. Walking through the kitchen showroom, I couldn’t help but feel wafts of calm happiness.

I gazed at the set-ups- each one unique and intricate. I ran my hands along the smooth granite countertops. I opened each and every drawer and cabinet and flicked them shut. I eyed the beautiful organization of staged pots and pans, longing for such order in my own kitchen.

Someday, I will buy these cabinets to redesign my kitchen. For now, just visiting them will have to do.


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Adventures in Married Life: Where Is That Smell Coming From?

We ignored it for a few days, but after returning from visiting Bret’s parents this weekend, we could stand it no longer.

“Where is that smell coming from?” I asked in an admittedly disgusted voice. I opened the pantry that houses our garbage and recycling. “Not there.” I stick my nose in the sink on the disposer side. “Not there.” I open the refrigerator and am smacked in the face with stench.

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had many guests. My parents were here and we made a turkey. Bret’s sister and her family came and we made fondue. The Eagles played the Giants. We invited friends and made a ham. All of these guests and events produced leftovers, which were now filling my fridge in tupperware. And one of them smelled. Bad.

One by one, I took the containers from the refrigerator to inspect, thirteen in all. Broccoli, potatoes, fruit, chocolate/peanut butter concoction. Fondue. Stuffing. Turkey. Ham, pineapple. Giants/Eagles game. There were a few more in there that had no doubt exceeded their shelf life. I can’t even remember when we made them. Pigs in a blanket. Who saves those? My husband, that’s who. Something that looks like queso dip and one so unrecognizable that the whole tupperware container went in the garbage with it. Eww.

We trashed. We washed. We dried. We have yet to put away and they are still in the dish strainer. But alas, I have not yet found the answer to my question.


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Harry’s Writing Scene

Harry was determined to write something.

Alright. Let’s do this.

I nose the pencil over to the gleaming piece of blank paper in front of me. I get slightly dizzy watching it spin with each poke from my increasingly numb nose.

Time to pick you up, big yellow beast. With my paws latched under the pencil’s groove, I lift with all my might. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggr. hu, hu, hu (heavy breathing). Ug, this thing weighs A TON! Who would have thought writing could be such hard work? I brace myself once more, bending at my knees, and I pull up with all my might. Grrrrrrgrrrgrggrrgrr. hu, hu, hu. Unsuccessful. This is clearly not working.

I sit and ponder my options. Hmm. Maybe a shorter pencil. I scurry over to the counter and climb up the bookcase, making my way to the pencil cup. I pick one out and start with my nosing routine again.

This time, it takes considerably less effort. With one heave I have the pencil resting on my shoulder. Now, my first sentence. I’d better begin with a capital letter.

Harry was tired of being treated as the average classroom hamster.

Because of the weight of the pencil, Harry wobbled to and fro, trying to form each letter correctly.

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Fact #2 Fiction Relys on Character Wants

So, I know my hamster wants a more meaningful life. I think that’s going to happen when he sneaks out of his cage at night and begins to write. OOooo, I got it! He’ll practice what we learn in the mini-lesson that day and leave it on chart paper for us to read in the morning and none of us know where it’s coming from. Yea! I like that idea!

But something has to happen to MAKE him want to begin writing. Maybe a writing contest comes along that he wants to enter? Or I say something that makes him want to write? He reads something that inspires him? I’m not sure yet.

And how will he figure out a writing life will make his life more meaningful? That’s a hard lesson to learn, even for a person. Hmm. That’s going to be toughie. I think he only realizes his life has become more meaningful after he moves somebody or makes something happen with his writing.

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