Monthly Archives: April 2014

My Life as a Cat Owner #sol

I do not want an indoor pet. I grew up with a dog but had very little responsibility in caring for her. And I was heartbroken when we had to put her down my senior year in high school, so no more pets.

When my sons were young, they had fish that refused to die; I think the last one died from old age. And my husband has always has bird hunting dogs, but those dogs are taken care of by my dons and the dogs live in outdoor kennels.

I have never owned, nor desired to own, a cat. So I never intended to keep the kitten pitifully crying that appeared out of the woods back in August. We tried to find the owner, but we have few neighbors and no one seemed to be missing a kitten. Since we live in the country, we decided that having a cat that would (we hoped) catch the mice that lived in the garage wasn’t a bad idea. She still wasn’t an inside cat. . .until the polar vortex.

We have adjusted to a cat who sleeps indoors and lives outside when weather permits. She has mostly adjusted. All of it seems normal now, even having an indoor pet.

Unfortunately, while most days are uneventful, the eventful cat days have become social media fodder.

Friday night we came home after dark; Daisy (the cat–named for Gatsby’s elusive love) was still out but greeted us at the detached garage (about 2/3 of the way up the driveway from the house). To prevent her from hiding in the woods, my younger son put her in the running but parked van while we fed the dog and grabbed some tools for prom setup the next morning. When my older son tried to open the van’s hatch to put the tools and ladder inside, it was locked. Running in the driveway. With only the cat inside. And I knew that my spare key was not on the key rack. Daisy, in an attempt to watch us, stood in the front seat with her paws on the door armrest and managed to press the lock button! Have you ever tried to coax a cat to do exactly what you want–in this case place her paw on a half inch wide button? That was the task that I gave the younger son; the older son ran inside the house to grab wire hangers to something to poke the lock button; I started dumping out purses and bookbags looking for the extra key. I found the key first–phew.

Sunday night, Daisy cried and cried to go outside in the dark. We finally relented by letting her onto the deck outside our bedroom, two stories up, which we had done during the numerous snowstorms. She ran back and forth chasing moths, went onto the sunroom roof, walked along the railing. And then there was a sound of metal and scrambling–yes, she had jumped down into the backyard. The more we called her, the farther away she ran. She has slept outside overnight numerous times, so I wasn’t too worried about her. I checked one more time for her before going to bed. Sometime after midnight, my husband and I were both awakened by a cat pitifully crying outside our sliding glass door. We already knew that she was able to climb up to the deck, an entirely different story, but she has never done so at night, a rainy night at that, to cry outside the door begging to be let back in. Yes, I brought her in and put her to bed.

My life as a cat owner? Entertaining.

BC 1.8 Article of the Week with Resources #BC20

I heard about Kelly Gallagher a few summers ago during the Eastern Illinois Writing Project Summer Institute; a few teachers swore by everything that he has ever written. And I believe Amber from Tuscola Middle School mentioned his Article of the Week. Intrigued, I went to Gallagher’s website:

Gallagher’s rationale for assigning an article of the week–to provide students with more informational texts (before CCSS) and to encourage students to become more aware of current events/topics–seemed logical and obvious. I incorporated it into the senior level English class I taught that fall. I selected an article each week trying to choose topics that they might not cover in the Current World Issues elective course. Students were expected to read, annotate, write a one-page (minimum 30 lines) response (not summary), and participate in a class discussion.

My students struggled with omitting or relying on a summary, and I found that I needed to teach them annotating skills. The nonfiction annotation skills lessons continue to be a work in progress. However, the weekly articles did provide the students with a wide variety of topics from which to draw for their researched argument papers, as well as our side topic of reading editorial cartoons. And I intend to incorporate the weekly article assignment with the dual credit literature class that I will teach next year.

This current spring semester, I have incorporated the use of an article each week, but rather than me choosing an article, my students have to research and choose an article to connect to each week’s literary reading. It has been a struggle for my students, mostly because I suggested, rather than required, that they read certain websites on a daily or weekly basis to keep up with current topics, and they have not chosen to do so. I even told them which websites could be followed via Twitter or would send them daily emails to appeal to their social media addictions (and to include BYOT). I don’t want to quiz them weekly on current topics, so next year I will model reading the various websites for the first couple weeks with the hope that they will continue on their own.

These are the websites that I have suggested that my students read and that I have used to find weekly articles: The Week Magazine “10 things you need to know today” (; Mental Floss–Random, Interesting, Amazing Facts (

These are websites that are more for teachers to utilize: The Learning Network (; NewsELA which provides timely articles that area available in four different Lexile levels and some articles include quizzes that can be taken using BYOT–all for FREE (; ThinkCERCA which is similar to NewsELA but with fewer article choices, but still FREE (; The Responsibility Project from Liberty Mutual provides recent controversies involving teenagers that are great for starting a discussion or research (

I would love any additional suggestions!!


Slice of Life Reinvigorated #sol

I have a student teacher this semester; I thought she was incredibly lucky because our English department remapped the curriculum and created all new quarterly units, so I had no expectations, no this-is-how-I-have-always-taught-it-so-you-will-teach-it-my-way. Fortunately, she has been up to that … Continue reading