I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Now is the Time

Oh, hey there. It's me...still me...just me.

Ready for 2015?

I'm getting there...slowly...

In fact, I've started a list (as well as a Pinterest board) of things/goals to strive for in 2015:

1. Be on the lookout for God moments (and spend time in gratitude for them, using my gratitude journal regularly).
2. Drink more water.
3. Stick to marathon training (aim for 4-5 days of running/gym per week), even when the going gets tough...or the roads freeze over. (And sign up for the Flying Pig 2015 marathon...)
4. Go to Wednesday evening Mass (or Thursday adoration) at least once a month.
5. Pray a decade of the Rosary every day.
6. Read books. For fun. And for teacher education/learning.
7. Learn the guitar...one chord at a time...
8. Stress less...breathe more...
9. Drink less coffee/caffeine...one morning cup is enough!
10. Be a better listener/more present.
11. Stay calm in the classroom and try not to raise my voice.
12. Cook more meals/real food.
13. Eat chocolate...in moderation.
14. Send birthday cards...on time.
15. Make a schedule (& goals) at the beginning of each week to plan activities, school-related commitments, etc. accordingly.

The list will go on, but for now, that's a pretty good start. Perhaps blog regularly (or, even daily) should be on there? Hmm...

Many blessings to you and yours in the new year!

Friday, December 19, 2014

But They Can't Come

As mentioned previously, my 6th grade homeroom won a movie and hot cocoa/popcorn party for winning the door decorating contest.

So, we had the party yesterday...
And I invited the other 6th grade class...
And then my class got upset.


Me: Let's turn the tables - Wouldn't you want to be invited if they won the party?
Student A: But they didn't win.
Me: Let's pretend they did or that they will in the future.
Student B: But the class that won last year didn't share with the other 5th grade class.
Me: Well, I wasn't your teacher last year.
Student C: That's not fair that they get to come.

And so forth...

Ultimately, the other class came over, and they all ate their popcorn, some had hot cocoa, and they enjoyed their movie.

But I just don't know if the message I was trying to send sunk in.

As I was thinking to myself (not meaning to get deeply religious or anything), I thought about the idea that nothing really belongs to us - things and people are ours to take care of while we walk this earth, but, in the end, you can't take it with you. So, who am I to say someone can't use something or be included or whatever, when I turn around and take other people's (like my roommates) things (e.g. couches, tv, etc.) for granted as my own.

Isn't that hypocritical?

Anyways, I'm not trying to be a downer before Christmas. We did have fun, their concert last night was lovely, the parents were gracious, and I was home before 8 p.m. (in time to grade the final Hobbit quizzes and Advent make-up quizzes).

Today is a half day for the students - 15 minute rotating classes for middle school followed by their holiday party and dismissal. (And then the teachers are treated to a luncheon at a local restaurant - lovely!) After that, I'll come home, finish throwing things in my suitcase, and be on my way home for the holidays.

Safe travels to all! And happy (early) holidays!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Elfish, Not Selfish

Apparently, it pays to "be elfish, not selfish" - the students won the door decorating contest! (I can't take credit for the idea - it came from a lunch expedition to Tijuana Flats over the Thanksgiving holiday break.)

The kiddos are supposed to get a popcorn & movie party as the prize, but, unfortunately, their behavior after the schoolwide announcement was less than stellar (or so I was told - they were in Math class)...so, they clearly can make signs but possibly not take them to heart, as I would call their behavior "selfish" instead of "elfish."

Regardless, I think the decorations turned out great and the kids seemed to have fun making their "elfies" and putting ideas for how they can help others over the Advent season. Check out some photos below:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

It's a Hobbit

When the students started reading Hobbit about a month ago, I had a few doubts about how they would take it. But now, as we've passed the mid-way point, I realize that those fears were largely unfounded. While the book can be challenging (content- and vocabulary-wise), it truly is meant for all ages, especially tweens and teens.

Personally, I had never picked up Hobbit or The Lord of the Ring series until it was time to read it with the kiddos this year. (I guess there are some perks for teaching middle school Language Arts/Reading, eh?) But it's very compelling, and in helping the students explore close reading strategies with it, I'm reading it closer too...and it is full of great characters, foreshadowing, lucky escapes, and more.

Sometimes good books sneak up on you when you least expect them to, and you spend some time wondering why you waited so long to read them in the first place. Thank goodness for times like those.

Speaking of books, tomorrow my school is hosting a book fair fundraiser, and teachers have been asked to do read alouds in the store. I invited my sister, so in our best voices we'll be reading "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" - should be a ton of fun!

Well, that's enough for today. I'll leave you with a unique version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" (see below) - it's worth the watch:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mid-Day Break

After sending the 4th & 5th graders on their way back to school post-Advent retreat, I started setting up for the 7th & 8th grade one that would follow in about 20 minutes. There wasn't a lot to set up, but I also didn't have time to go grab my lunch, bring it back, and scarf it down.

As good fortune would have it, our director of Religious Ed came down to the basement and invited me to have lunch with her and the priests upstairs - they had ordered Panera as a simple "thank you" for the priests who had come to assist with hearing confessions. Well, the food would have been lovely in and of itself, but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation (albeit a quick one) with the priests. It was nice to just take a few moments to sit and be present with other people during the midst of a somewhat busy day. They spoke a little of their parishes and where they came from, and I talked a little bit about my experience with the ACE program and my time in Chicago.

Conversations that involve true listening and presence are the best ones. Too often we are swept away by the necessary things we feel the need to complete each day that we mostly tune out any interactions that would be on a deeper level because we just don't "have the time." But we need to make time because it's exactly those kinds of conversations that allow us to get better glimpses of human nature and to better understand the presence of God in one another.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

All I Want For Christmas...

...is it to feel like Christmas.

I believe I'm doing everything right:
The Christmas tree is up (though there are no lights or ornaments yet)...
Christmas lights line the streets and the store windows...
The weather is chilly (even though there's no snow)...
The Advent wreath and decorations are up (and I get plenty of Advent reflections delivered to my inbox) to serve as reminders of the Church season...
I'm seeing two Christmas shows this week (A Q Bros Christmas Carol & some Christmas extravaganza with family in Michigan)...
My roommate busted out the first Christmas movie Monday night...
Christmas music plays nonstop (with no commercials!) every evening on the commute home...

Ok, so I haven't bought Christmas presents yet or sent out my Christmas cards...but I have to wonder, what is going on? What am I so wrapped up/preoccupied with that I'm moving through my favorite season (Advent!) without truly experiencing all the graces and wonder it has to offer?

I guess I don't expect an answer...I just hope to find some way soon to better enter into the spirit that everyone else around me seems to be exuding...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Time...for Advent

Holidays (and the related school breaks) always come and go much too quickly. It seems that just as your plane is landing at the airport you are taking off in the other direction to go right back where you came from.

How is it that time never slows down when you actually want it to?

Time is one thing you can never get back, it's true. It keeps pressing us onward, beckoning us to return to the grindstone of daily living.

But there is something about this time of year (Advent) that calls us to slow down, to prepare for Jesus' comings...

So, what are you waiting for? It's time to prepare...it's time to start slowing down...

Happy (liturgical) new year, everyone! Have a blessed Advent!

Check out some of these great resources to help in preparation for the season:
- Free Advent App
- Advent resources from Loyola Press

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I Kill the Mockingbird

Clever would be one way to describe it. Or, perhaps you could call it intriguing. It's definitely a book with potential to have you chuckling (if not laughing) out loud.

I Kill the Mockingbird.

Yes, you read the correctly. (And, if your brain went straight to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, you're already on the right track.) In addition to the fact that To Kill a Mockingbird is a true classic, this book incorporates a wealth of references to other quality literature, including (but not limited to) books by Charles Dickens, Moby Dick, Farenheit 451, and Charlotte's Web. Plus, the three main characters are graduating 8th graders at a local Catholic grade school - so, as you can imagine, there are some great Catholic references too.

Here are just a couple of my favorite lines from the book:

When their teacher explains about what good reading actually is: "It's not enough to know what all the words mean...A good reader starts to see what an entire book is trying to say. And then a good reader will have something to say in return. If you're reading well...you're having a conversation."

When the main character's father is talking about why he spends so much time at Church (and as a Catholic school principal): "Life is a gift. Going to church is like sending a thank-you card."

Whether you are looking to recommend a novel to a young person (child, student, random neighbor) in your life or whether you're just looking for a light-hearted (but thought-provoking) easy read, this book should be next on your list.

There are no excuses - it has been in my car's trunk for nearly two months because I "haven't had the time to read"...but it literally took less than 3 hours to devour it. Om nom nom.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Poetic Apology

At the end of my second period of 7th grade Religion today, I received the following note of apology from a student - note, they were very rambunctious today and could not settle down to save their little lives:

I am sorry, Ms. Foyle, that we have been quite bad.
I know that all our talking makes you feel sad.
I am sorry that our energy is released in your class
And that we always talk and give you so much sass.
I'm sorry that we put you to your hardest test.
I'm sure that you want to move away from us, maybe far out west.
We know that we always laugh and tend to make noise.
I'm so sorry Ms. Foyle, but you give us such joy(s). (Hey, that rhymes.)
I love your hard work and the effort you put in
To help us learn about God and try to avoid sin.
I our world, you are the real hero.
For, after all, you never got up to go.
I know our talking constantly gets in the way
And this manner continues day by day
But we all respect you and think you are the best
despite the amounts of writing and tests. :)
You are very smart and so loving too.
We thank you, Miss Foyle, for all that you do.
Without you we couldn't grow in faith and love
and later go join our Father up above.
Your patience, I think, surprises us all
If I taught this class, I'd always cry and ball.
Our class may be tough and talkative too,
I don't know what we'd do without you.
I know that this class may be so very hard,
But I want to say sorry through this poem or card!

I did not change one bit of wording (smiley face included).

Well, doesn't that just beat all!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Poverty Inc

Went to see Poverty, Inc last night with my sister and a couple other friends. (It wasn't the movie I thought I was going to see, but it was definitely worth it!)

It's an eye-opener on the impact of NGOs (non-government organizations) and other efforts of aid that are actually hurting the local economies of the very places they are intending to help.

I believe the film is being shown at various places around the country slowly but surely. If you have a chance to go see it, please do. Getting informed is the first step...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Case of the Mondays

Today we had a case of the Mondays...yet again.

I thought it was just 6th grade Language Arts...but then 8th grade was chatty...and the first 7th grade...and then the second 7th grade.

Maybe it's just me...? (Well, that was cleared up when I talked to my fellow colleagues and teacher friends at other schools.)

But honestly, today felt like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day because things went from bad (having no heat through the night and into the morning - which included no hot water for a shower when I got back from the gym - due to some problem on our whole block) to worse (when I felt ineffective as a teacher).

Some days just knock you on your butt. For me, those days are usually known as Mondays. (It's too bad they come around so often.)

But that means the week can only get better. Tomorrow will be a chance for me to get back up and stare Tuesday in the face.

And I'm ready...

P.S. Here are some of my most recent classroom photos - as you'll see, we're doing some Church history, Hobbit, etc...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Church History Excitement

After watching a video about Sts. Peter & Paul...

Student A: Miss Foyle, I thought Church history was going to be boring, but this stuff is actually really cool!
Me: Yes, it certainly is.

Later in class:

Student B: Miss Foyle, you seem pretty excited about all this stuff.
Me: Yes, I guess I do.

It's amazing the difference a year makes. Having traveled on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land this summer and having just finished a Bible study on Acts of the Apostles, my familiarity with early Church history (and my confidence in teaching it) has gone up quite a bit since last Fall when I first taught the subject matter.

And it's made a difference.

It's gotta be the Holy Spirit...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's Magic

Watching students come alive - that's magic.

What's causing this joy and energy? Our school's new literary blog! We haven't had any submissions yet, but the students who are part of our newly formed club have a mission and a plan to get there.

Sure, I'm now giving up my after school time on Thursdays to moderate a club, but let me tell you, it's worth it. To say I have nothing to do with it (except for the opening of my classroom and occasionally redirecting the students back to their determined task at hand) is not a shirk of responsibility; nor is it me trying to be overly humble. It's honestly all the kids.

They are organized and ready to go. I can't wait for their project to get off the ground. 

And me? I'm just the lucky teacher who happened to plant a seed of an idea at the right time to the right student. Let's see how it grows!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Perfect Love

We wrapped up this season's Bible Study session on Acts of the Apostles on Monday night. As always, the caliber of conversation was high and engaging.

One question was along the lines of how Jesus may be acting as a light in the world through us, and one person spoke to the fact of realizing (through the visit of his brother's family, especially his godson) that he has the capacity to love someone (his godson, in this case) so much that he would willingly risk his life for that person. He said that until that point, he wasn't sure if he was capable of that kind of love.

And I thought to the Baptism of my own goddaughter I attended about a month ago - when I looked down into her eyes as I held her in my arms, I was overwhelmed with that same sense of love. (I can only imagine what her parents must feel!)

God calls each of us to this kind of love - selfless and perfect, willing to sacrifice for others, be they siblings, spouses, friends, or even strangers. To circle back to the topic of the question, then, what are we doing to allow Jesus to act as a light through us in ways that show this love to others in our world today?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Stressing Less

Guess what goes first when the stress, "homework," and activities pile on...


Yes, this past week was surely a stressful one. In fact, heading into the weekend, I was stressing out because there was just way too much to accomplish this weekend (in my mind).

However, with a little help from last year's lesson plans & supplemental activities for my religion classes, I was able to pull together my classroom activities for the week more quickly than if I had needed to invent them from scratch. Report card comments and final grade overrides took a long time, but it wasn't nearly as long as I expected. Young Adult retreat planning also took less time than I thought it would. For Language Arts, I was able to make a solid (cheap) purchase on TPT for Hero's Journey materials that I didn't have to create those activities either.

In fact, things moved along so much better than expected this weekend, I got extra things done, including a skeleton of retreat ideas for the three 4-8th grade retreats coming up in Advent. (Yay!)

God is so good. I have to learn to stress less. It will all get done...eventually. (Or, in this case, it will get done sooner than expected.)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Already dreaming of Christmas...?

Are you kidding me? Christmas lights already? The thought just made my skin crawl. (I was pleasantly surprised to find that the lights just belonged to one of the local bars...but then I was equally distressed that they were the colors of Ohio State, complete with a giant blow-up Buckeye mascot out front.)

Maybe Christmas was on my mind yesterday because the NBC Today Show on Saturday had a clip about how holiday shopping is already underway. 

Yes, you read that correctly. 

Pretty soon Christmas is going to be year-round...but at what cost? When it's constantly surrounding us and dragged out for months and focused on Santa and presents, it loses its true meaning. (Does the saying Keep Christ in Christmas come to mind right now?)

Nowadays, there are fewer and fewer hold-outs. (You know, the ones who refuse to listen to Christmas music till after Thanksgiving and who believe in homemade gifts or ones you can get at the store up until a few days before Christmas, sale or no sale?) But I'm planning to stay one of them. There's still a long way till December 25th...and a lot to do to prepare our hearts (especially during Advent) before then. 

And, to top it all off, why rush Fall?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

United Forever

Today is the Feast of All Saints...but, as it falls on a Saturday, it is not a holy day of obligation for the Catholic Church.

There was Mass offered this morning at my parish, so I decided that would be a great way to start my morning. Apparently, not many people had the same sentiment, as the Church only held about 40(?) people today. But of that amount of people, many were fellow pilgrims on my trip to Israel this summer, and my joy was overflowing for seeing them all.

And this feeling made me realize that after traveling to such a sacred place on our pilgrimage, there will forever be a bond/force/you-name-it that will unite us together. Without a doubt, the pilgrimage changed each of us and wove our lives together, and I am so grateful every day (and especially days like today!) for those who helped make my journey (and memories) so meaningful.

Happy Feast of All Saints!

Friday, October 31, 2014

A "Frozen" Halloween

I don't know why but I've always loved the idea of Halloween...

Hope it's a good one!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Things Left Unfinished...

Yes, it happens all the time...things are not quite finished going into this week's lesson plans/activities for school.

And the stress comes.
And the freaking out comes.
And the nightmares come. (Sometimes.)

But something finally hits - there will never be a time when everything is done.

Breaks are needed.
Friends & family are needed (and are more important).
Other responsibilities are needed.

The lessons will go on. The students will learn. (We hope!) And the cycle will continue - more (never-ending) planning for next week.

It's important to be able to sit down on a Sunday night and fully (or, at least, mostly) believe that the week ahead has great potential...even if something unexpected happens or if plans change.

We adapt.
We move on.
We keep plugging away.

Because we are teachers.
Because we love what we do.
Because we care about our kids (while attempting to maintain our sanity).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Up and Down We Go

One minute I'm sitting down in frustration when students cannot stop talking to listen to directions, and the next minute I'm so proud of each of them for getting up to share about their memoirs and techniques they used to improve them.

Up one minute, down the next - what's a teacher to do?

Lately, especially in 6th grade LA, I've been down more than up. It's hard to fuel your passion in a subject area when behavior keeps you from actually getting to the content to teach it.

Seems to be about every other blog post I'm complaining or venting my frustrations...and I apologize for that. But I believe that in reflecting there will one day come clarity. (Yes, I'm still waiting for that clarity to come.)

In other news, the 5th grade girls vball season is just about at an end. We've had some ups and downs (both on and off the court), but it's been a season of tremendous growth. I'm glad I had the chance to stick with these girls. They are such a joy!

Saturday, October 18, 2014


"Ice cream for my ears" is how one fan described it, and I would have to agree: The Piano Guys performed at the Chicago Theater last night, and it was absolutely mesmerizing. (And the performers were funny, engaging, and grounded.)

If, like many of my co-workers and friends, you haven't heard about the Piano Guys yet or taken the time to listen to their music, you are missing out. (Quick! Click HERE for their YouTube channel!) Most of it is completely instrumental (with some oohs, ahs, and occasional lyrics) and performed with piano and cello. (Yes, they are called the Piano Guys. Yes, they referenced the cello in many jokes over and over again last night. And, yes, it was funny each time.)

It just made my heart happy to listen to their talented interpretations of classical and pop songs. In the encore number, the two producers came to the stage and joined in as the four of them gathered around the piano plucking, playing, and slapping the instrument to create a beautiful rendition of "What Makes You Beautiful"...and they looked like they had so much FUN doing it.

Their musical performance was the epitome of what happens when passion and talent come together - WOW.

Sooooooo, are they coming to a city near you...?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014



That's the word my principal/supervisor used to describe my class.

She was positive about a lot of things going right in my 6th grade Language Arts class. But she and I both realize there is room for growth (especially in helping students manage their behaviors).

And I feel that this year (even more than ever before) that it's a team effort (across middle school, specials, and administration) with this class: How do we design instruction to meet their learning needs and to get them up and moving as much as possible? How do we get them invested in their school work? What is going to get their attention (while still meet the standards)? How can we support each individual where he/she is at and help him/her where they need to go on their academic (and spiritual) journeys?

So many questions...so much potential...As I mentioned to one of my professors the other day, I feel like this is one tough nut to crack...but it's a nut we keep chipping away every day.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Long Weekend = "Cake-Taker"

Long weekends are something to look forward to in and of themselves. However, when you add in a family visit, marathon-watching, and a Baptism, that particular long weekend takes the cake.

For me, that "particular long weekend" is this one. (Yes, thanks to Columbus Day, school is not in session.) 

On the one hand, I've been able to accomplish quite a bit in terms of preparing for some upcoming lessons and things at school. 

On the other hand, I had the opportunity for some quality visiting time with both my family and the families of my friends whose baby was baptized on Sunday. (It was such a beautiful ceremony, and I am blessed to call the little lady my goddaughter!)

On the other hand...there is no other hand!

But seriously, today is already shaping up to be a good one - I went for a short jog this morning before settling down to blog, practice my Spanish (hooray for Duolingo), and eat breakfast (have you tried the new Trader Joe's pumpkin O's???), and I will soon meet up with my sister for coffee. I hope to make progress on Killing Jesus (our YAC book club pick this month) and additional lesson/project planning before heading to Bible Study tonight.

A four day week ahead...bring it on!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

We are Family

One word.
Yet powerful.
Holding oceans of memories -
And making more at each gathering.

This past weekend was my cousin's wedding. (And a lovely wedding it was!) Though my sister and I had our doubts of even making it out to Denver, the re-booked flight came through, and we arrived. It was a whirlwind weekend - probably less than 36 hours in CO - but I wouldn't have traded it for the world.

Perfect weather. Beautiful mountains. Heartfelt ceremony. (Crazy (fun) family.)

And here are a few picture to prove it:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Little...But Done With Love

On Wednesday, we celebrated the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux, a Saint who is known for doing little things with great love for God:

There is a lot we can take away from St. Therese, the little flower. She is a Saint we can relate to, especially those who are young, for she died when she was only 24.

Through the intercession of St. Therese, may we grow in holiness by practicing little acts of great love for others and for God. Amen.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Keep on Turnin'

Today was better...at least for 6th grade. (7th grade, in all of their "love" struggles, left a lot to be desired.)

Still working to improve - more impromptu/move-around groupings? videos? less content but more depth?

The wheels keep turning. Slowly but slowly I'll piece this puzzle together...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Is that a Rhetorical Question?

Some days are just SO frustrating...especially those ones when the chattiness just does. not. stop.

(But, in speaking with my other teacher friends, I realize I am not alone, so then I feel much better about myself and life.)

However, I read an article that I had found on Pinterest, and I got a little disheartened that I'd used at least half of the phrases that it says to cut out. S***

As I think about the point this article is trying to make, I see the impact such rhetorical language has in my own classroom - it feeds into the need of my students to show power and get attention (the wrong kind).

Well, at least that's a positive step - realizing that I need to make a change. (Not that, by any means, do I consider this blog the Bible, but I think it makes a valid point.)

Let's see if I can make some changes to be less rhetorical tomorrow...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Simple Prayer

This is absolutely beautiful, and I encourage you to read it and reflect on it: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/19840/god-came-to-tea/

At a time when prayer doesn't always come easy (or, quite frankly, I forget to pray), this is a good reminder.

God is always waiting - inviting us to speak to Him. He's listening, and He wants us to return to Him.

Dear God, Thank you for this simple message found through poetic reflection today. It is a lovely day outside, and I am grateful to have spent some time enjoying the weather with friends and family. Please guide all those who have fallen away from close relationship with you to find you once again through simple, heartfelt prayer. Amen.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I love incorporating new ideas into the classroom with each new school year, and this year has been no exception.

Over the summer (while working with a couple classes of teachers doing the ACE program through Notre Dame), we had a guest presenter who did a mini poetry workshop. We did an activity where she gave each group a stanza from Oh! The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss, and she had very basic rules for our groups of 4 people:

1) Everyone has to say at least something by him/herself.
2) Everyone has to say at least something together/as a whole group.
3) No one cannot say anything - in other words, all must participate.

So, the first time wed did the exercise, it was just reciting the lines from the poem.

Then, the same rules applied, but we were instructed to add a movement to just about every word in our section.

And so, after having a little bit of time (i.e. a couple of minutes) to work on that, we all presented (again) with our movements.

And, finally, we did it a third time - but that time, it was done from memory.

Now, that wasn't the end of the activity - she followed it up with a writing exercise involving advice in verse about teaching, but the activity itself gave me an idea for introducing the Nicene Creed this week to my students...

So...I put up the rules on the board (one set at a time), and the students went around the first time just reciting the words of the Creed from their small groups (using the rules stated above). Then, after giving them minimal time, they did it a second time - with movements. And the third time, it was from memory.

As students left the classroom yesterday, I had them "tweet" on an exit slip (140 characters or less, of course!) about their takeaway from the activity. One student wrote, "I didn't know it could be so easy to learn the Creed!" and another said, "I had a lot of fun doing movement with the Creed, and I learned a lot."

If nothing else, it got them out of their seats...and it got them thinking about the Creed. We get into its history and meaning today before moving into the Trinity later this week.

Now, if only I can incorporate this activity into Language Arts soon...I think that might be something those kiddos would respond to...

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Why are some people so afraid of telling a child no? It's not like the child is going to die or anything.

Is it because they're afraid of the tears? maybe the child won't like him/her anymore?

Contrary to those thoughts, does anyone ever stop to think it would actually be a good thing for that child to deal with the word "no"?

In a culture where many children are over-indulged, saying no has become taboo... But man are we in for it.

Allow me to offer two examples of what I mean:

At aftercare on Friday, two moms (at two different times) came to pick up their children. Upon announcing that it was time to go home, the students stayed on the computers, insisting that they needed to finish the game. Apparently this was okay to both parents, as they just waited until their children were ready. One even proceeded to pack up her son's bag...

Earlier today, my sister and I were dining at Corner Bakery (after I finished MOC at the hospital) - while we were digesting our lunches, a family with a small girl came in. When the mom put her down, she immediately reached for a Capri Sun in the display, but her mom told her they had to pay first. The girl started pouting and crying over on the bench. Her dad sat down with her. Within a couple of minutes, one of the workers went over to the girl and handed her a Capri Sun. (Oh look, no more tears!) Really?...

What lesson have we taught the children in these cases? Do what you want - authority doesn't really matter anyway? or, Whine enough and you'll get your way because no one wants to see you cry?


I don't have a solution...except to maybe incorporate "no" into our respective vocabularies more often.

If parents and babysitters/nannies started to do that, maybe we'd have an easier time in the classroom when we tell our students no too...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

8th Grade Prayer Stations

On Tuesday and Thursday 8th graders participated in a "prayer buffet" of sorts to learn/practice different kinds of prayers using common materials in hopes they will explore more kinds of prayers on their own...

Please note, I did not come up with these stations on my own. Ideas were sought after and found on the following sites (and others):

http://www.rethinkingyouthministry.com/2009/07/creative-prayer-stations-for-church.html http://kidz.arumc.org/2012/09/21/lordsprayer/ http://www.rethinkingyouthministry.com/2008/03/youth-prayer-nite.html

Monday, September 15, 2014

Community Living

I snuck into Bible Study about 45 minutes late tonight (due to a volleyball game at school), and I was really glad I went. We're studying Acts of the Apostles, so there's a lot of good discussion to be had surrounding the beginning of the Christian Church.

One question centered around the type of living the early followers led - so we got to talking about community living and having all things shared. So, naturally, I started talking about ACE - how we all went in on one bank account, cooked and ate meals together, shared a house and transportation... I guess I take that time of intentional community living for granted because my table group started asking things like, wasn't that hard? and did everyone just go for the cheap stuff? They were surprised when I told them how well we actually ate in Phoenix those two years.

Maybe that time in ACE taught me more than I even realized then - intentional community living done well must indeed be close to those early followers. We looked out for each other, shared jobs, and spent quality time in prayer and conversation.

Darn right it was hard...and maybe I wouldn't have chosen it on my own. But in looking back, I think it has transformed me into a more empathetic person who can more easily go with the flow and not get caught up in the whole "it's mine" mentality.

So, years later, I've still got ACE to thank. :)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Loved and Lost

When the time comes for me to say goodbye to someone or something I love very much, the first thing I think is, "Why should I love so much in the first place if it hurts so much to lose someone/something? Wouldn't life just be easier if I kept myself closed off, keeping people (and things) at a distance so as to not get hurt?"

But then, a familiar line of a song comes drifting in: "What matters most is that we loved at all..."

Today, I got a text from my mom telling me that they were putting our dog, Murphy, down at the vet, and that they would bury him in the backyard. I've spent a good deal of the afternoon in tears, it's true, but I've also chuckled in remembering some really good times we all shared with him (as well as some of the silly things he did). And, even though it hurts to know he's no longer with us, it makes me happy that we have those fun memories together.

It's true - without love, there really would be no purpose in living, no matter how hard things get sometimes. Yes, it's painful, but that's what makes relationships so sweet and so special. No one lives forever (at least not on this earth), so we need to take the opportunity to walk with and grow with those people and things that come into our lives while we can.

So, thank you, Murphy, for the 13+ years you were a part of our lives. We love you...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Going, Going, Gone

When life throws tons of things at you at once...make sure you keep your head above water.

For me (this past week), that meant giving up running and blogging (sadly).

I did take some "me" time with friends for a concert on Tuesday:

Yes, the opener (Mikey Wax) for Brendan James played the keyboard with his left hand while simultaneously picking the guitar with his right hand

Brendan James at SPACE

I could listen to this man play and sing all day...

...But that was pretty much the only "break I took. Between coaching 5th grade volleyball (practice 2 times a week and games up to two (other) days a week and school stuff (and being sick), there was not much time left for anything else.

I hope to change that this week. While I have (and will) spent (spend) quite a bit of time this weekend preparing materials/handouts/projects for school, I'm also making sure I get outside and enjoy the weather. Just this afternoon, my sister and I went to the art fair right at the end of my street. And tomorrow, I will be going to family Mass at my school. Today, I got a text from a friend about free tickets to a Cubs game this week, so that's definitely an opportunity to take a "time out" from the work and stress. (We just better wear some layers - it's going to be chilly!)

And I do hope to be back in the blogging action. So many thoughts and questions (especially about the classroom) have been swimming around in my head, and I want to share...

Until next time...