The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.


I have a confession to make: I planned on blogging more over the break than I did. I also planned on catching up on all the blogs that I follow over the break. I didn’t do that, either. Come to think of it, I planned on doing a lot of things over the break that I didn’t actually do. But I did do one thing that was super, super, super important: I actually took a break. I know so many teachers who allow their jobs to consume 100% of their lives. They wake up early and get to school before anyone else. They stay until everyone but the night-time cleaning crew has left. They go home and work on projects, lesson plans, grading, and other things related to their class. They go to bed late and dream about teaching. Then they wake up and do it all over again.

I am a believer in moderation. Any one thing taken to an extreme becomes unhealthy. I have a lot of geeky obsessions in my life. I love my geeky obsessions! But having so many means that I don’t allow any one thing to be the only thing I do. So over the winter break, instead of lesson planning, grading, project-ing, blogging about teaching, reading about teaching, blogging about what I read about teaching, and talking about teaching, I spent time with family. I spent time with friends. I spent time just sitting on my couch with my wife, catching up with TV shows, reading books (not about teaching!), and listening to music.

It was a nice, relaxing break. And now we have one more extra day that we will make up at the end of the year because it is really, really, really cold outside! Today I am getting myself ready to get back into the swing of things. My day is going to be full of teacher activities, like lesson planning, finding materials to support some projects my students asked to undertake, and catching up with blogs.

Speaking of which…

As I was catching up with the two dozen or so blogs related to teaching that I have bookmarked, I came upon this post by Internet colleague Katherine. And it just so happens that as I was reading the sun finally pushed through the haze and lit up my living room. Seriously!

So I guess I’ve been nominated for a Sunshine Award by default? I hope some day that my blog will gain enough traction that I will have people actually read it who aren’t parents of students and friends and family. Pretty certain that was something I said I’d like to see in 2014. Yep, it was!

What is this award?

The sunshine award gives others an opportunity to learn more about me as a blogger and then, in turn, I will send sunshine the way of 11 other amazing bloggers for you to get to know!

What are the rules?

Acknowledge the nominating blogger. Share 11 random facts about yourself. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
 Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

All right, eleven random facts about myself.

  1. I was born with a congenital cataract in my left eye. It was removed when I was about 9 years old. Because of this, I have no vision in my left eye (well, I can see colours and light but that’s about all), which means I don’t really have any depth perception.
  2. I tell people I was struck by lightning when I was in 8th grade. No, a lightning bolt did not come down and hit me directly. I was delivering newspapers during a severe storm and rode my bicycle into electrically-charged particles in the air.
  3. I am absolutely terrified of heights, but I have jumped out of an airplane (with a parachute, of course).
  4. I don’t drink coffee, black tea, or alcohol. I tend to drink water more than anything else, especially in the classroom, but I also drink soft drinks, herbal teas, juice, and sports drinks.
  5. I am an Eagle Scout, have served as a Webelos Den Leader, and am currently the Cubmaster for a local Cub Scout pack.
  6. I collect letter openers, especially antique ones, and have a collection of well over 100. I haven’t counted them lately, so I can’t give an exact number.
  7. I love playing board games and card games! My wife and I have a collection of over 60 games!
  8. I have become a connoisseur of necktie knots. My knot repertoire currently includes the Full Windsor, Eldredge, Trinity, Murrell, Merovingian, Krasny Hourglass, Van Wijk, Four-in-Hand, and Cape knots. (There are some other knots I’ve learned that I don’t particularly care for and therefore don’t use.)
  9. I was recently diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, which means, among other things, I tend to feel light-headed and dizzy whenever I change position (sitting to standing, especially). This is a minor annoyance.
  10. I wear a pink wristband for breast cancer awareness every single day.
  11. I am going to be teaching cursive handwriting this semester because 22 of my 24 students asked me to.

And the eleven questions:

  1. What is one dream you have that you want to accomplish this year? I want to finally start grad school so I can begin working on my Ed.M in Educational Administration.
  2. Favorite food? Ice cream.
  3. Where are you most comfortable? Everywhere. Seriously.
  4. Favorite subject in school as a kid? If you teach, favorite now? As a kid I loved my literature classes (with maybe one or two exceptions). As a teacher, I love teaching literacy because it ties directly into everything else.
  5. What is the best book you read last? I Want My Hat Back by John Klassen.
  6. Favorite movie of all time? I honestly do not have one! I have too many movies that I love for too many reasons!
  7. If you had to pick, what is your favorite way to exercise? Riding a bicycle. Which is what I do anyway.
  8. How do you prefer to travel – train, plane, boat, or car? Why? It depends on where I am going and why, but most of the time I would say plane. Even though I am terrified of heights, I don’t mind flying and it gets me to my destination faster so I can spend more time doing what I went there to do.
  9. Favorite season? Autumn. Love the colours, love the smells, love the feel.
  10. Snow days – love them or hate them? I am ambivalent toward them. I appreciate them because our district only has them when there is a very strong reason, usually related to the safety and well-being of students and staff.
  11. What are you looking forward to in 2014? I wrote an entire post about this last week!

At more than 1,100 words, I feel like this post is way longer than it should have been. I feel like most of the bloggers I follow have already done this, so I’ll ask a question, instead. Look at my list of Teaching Blogs that are over there on the right. (Sorry, you’ll have to scroll down a bit.) Who should be on this list? Why? Tell me and I will nominate them!


2 responses

  1. Alex, I, too, took a break these past two weeks. I spent most of my time cuddled up on my couch, lost in the pages of one book or another with my girls in arms reach similarly engaged. It was glorious. Today, like you, I’m working from home. Though I’m no longer in the classroom, I’ll still be making plans for the work I do with the teachers in my building and preparing for the next round of literacy interventions I’ll be doing with our striving readers. Good luck!

    January 6, 2014 at 8:48 am

  2. K Hsu


    Congratulations on winning the 2013 Dairy Queen Treat for Teachers contest! I read about your winning essay at the Urbana School District website at

    Would you post your winning essay on the blog?

    I wish you and your students a great 2014!

    January 6, 2014 at 12:17 pm

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