The Making of a Reader

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents” Emilie Buchwald

She picked up a new book from the pile I had placed on the table and walked over to the chair with a stuffed animal in her arms. She snuggled in close to the small soft elephant and opened the book.

“Once upon a time…” she began her “reading” of the book.

As the grandmother to this three year old girl I sat back, watching quietly as she made her way through the new text, making up a story line as she turned page after page. I tried to blend into the background so I could watch and learn and be amazed.

As I sat by, I couldn’t help but recall all of the emergent reading literature I had read. I thought about the stages outlined by Elizabeth Sulzby, the chapters in books by Matt Glover and Kathy Collins. It was all coming to life unfolding before me in my granddaughter. How exciting it was seeing to witness a reading life grow right before my eyes in my little one. I was both proud and amazed at what I saw.

As an educator I wanted to analyze and dig deeper into next steps but my grandmotherly ways won out and I decided to sit back, listen to the story, and enjoy the moment as my three year granddaughter read a story to her stuffed elephant.

“And they all lived happily ever after…”

It’s Tuesday and I’m sharing a slice of life story with the community of writers at Two Writing Teachers. Consider joining along.


Window Watching

We do a lot of watching from our lakefront windows.

We watch the teenagers playing tag in the water…

We watch the eagle fly by and then land on the rocks nearby…

We watch the ducks sitting on our wall…

We watch the family of geese attempting to find some available grass (sorry guys – the lawn is closed for business!)

And we watch the heron use the dock as a fishing pad.

Is that why my windows are always covered in tiny fingerprints and in need of washing?

I think I’d rather watch than wash!

It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at the Two Writing Teachers site. Come take a peek and consider joining in the writing fun!

Striking a Balance and a Question for My Literacy Friends

My long weekend was one of pure bliss…

Touching the lion’s footprint

I enjoyed three days playing with my four grandchildren and three children. We visited the zoo together, we made our first jumps off the lake dock into the still chilly waters together, and we even churned homemade vanilla ice cream together. The weekend was filled with laughter, food, and over-exhausted tears. I came to school today completely drained yet fulfilled, and wanting more days filled with simple family fun. I can see the possibilities of this happening over the summer which seems right ahead on the horizon. I don’t want to let these precious moments escape.

This morning I posted my summer reading professional book stack for #cyberPD, an online professional book club that takes place during the month of July. I have participated in this fabulous learning circle for four years and love the camaraderie and the insight gleaned from other phenomenal professionals across the globe reading and synthesizing the same book . Each year I am pushed in my thinking about a topic that I might not choose on my own. I leave with a greater appreciation for learning through my new PLN, professional learning community.

Here in lies the conflict …

As I look at my stack of professional texts I have planned for reading this summer, I can’t help but ask: How do I balance the fun reads with the professional reads? How do I take a break from the heavy thinking work of the school’s nine months, while staying current and fresh. How do I put family first during summer down time? I value learning and will make time to continue to grow in my practice, and yet I also need to honor time with my family?

So I ask of you: How do you balance summer learning and family during summer months?

I am writing my slice of life post today and cross-posting on Two Writing Teacher’s site. Take a peek and consider joining this teachers who write community.

A Pair of Glasses, Harry Potter, and My TBR List

Dear Middle School Student,

I bumped into you the other day at the base of the stairs as I was rushing to a meeting. My head was down and I was focused on being on time. I glanced up and saw you with your cute glasses sitting on top of your head. I just had to comment on how they made me smile.

You said they weren’t any regular, old, glasses, rather they were spectrespecs like the ones in Harry Potter.

I listened intently as you animatedly told me all about these special googles, as well as the wondrous characters in the book. It was then I made the decision to be vulnerable and admit that I was one of the few adults remaining on the planet that had not read Harry Potter. You didn’t judge me any less, and only said “Oh you must start now! You’ll love it.”

To which I shared that I may indeed start this summer. Your enthusiastic response was “You’ll never regret it! It’s fun and creative and worth every minute!” Your words made me pause and consider adding yet another title to my ever lengthening summer reading list. Yet I knew I was now destined to experience the series, thanks to your invitation.

So thank you again dear middle school student. I now have a plan for my summer reading, having downloaded book one onto my ereader. More importantly thank you for sharing your passion for reading. You bring me hope knowing that there are still middle schoolers who will candidly share their reading life with an unsuspecting adult. Thank you for making me smile and bringing me joy with your conviction for middle school reading.


Mrs. Baldiga

Draft Post Number Two

My draft was complete. I had been working on the post for about two hours and it was getting late. I felt proud of the slice I had written yet bedtime was calling. One more look before I hit the publish button. That’s when I noticed I didn’t cite the source of my clip art. I went back to the original site, copied the url address and hit paste.


Just like that my once full screen was now white space. No save button, no revision button, no history option, just empty white space. What happened to my post? Hours of writing, revising, and revising some more, gone!

I closed the post and opened the draft again. White space. I x-ed out of the window and opened up my site once more. White space. I closed all windows and opened the browser anew. White space. Each time I tried the title was in place but the space that not two minutes prior held a lovely post was now gone! An empty blank spot sat waiting to be filled.

I screamed! I shouted! I tapped angrily on the keyboard! I searched frantically for an answer and tried this solution and that idea, only to be met with that same white space. I considered recreating my writing but I was too angry to try.

So here we are friends, my new slice. Not one I had planned, not one I wanted, yet one that is filled with raw emotion and some white space.

Today is Tuesday and the community of writers over at Two Writing Teachers are sharing their Slice of Life Stories. Consider joining in!

I’m a Believer!

It’s Tuesday and I’m cross posting my slice of life story over at The Two Writing Teachers site.  take a peek and consider joining in on the fun!



I’m a Believer!

Hey Chris, it’s Tom. I know I told you I’d pick up your art palette at the gallery today but I couldn’t.


Wellllll… someone bought it!

What? Someone bought MY piece? Really?

Yep – and you’ll get a check shortly.

I couldn’t believe it!

For five years I have entered an art palette in a contest for a local nonprofit.  My siblings and I have all participated in this event and truth be told, I grow anxious about my product each year. (read here and here and here about my experiences) My brothers and sisters are ALL extremely talented artists. I simply toy around with paint.  My works of art are ok at best, and truly not worthy of hanging next to my siblings beautiful canvases.  In all honesty, I submit a painted palette to be part of the cause.  I judge I lack the self-confidence to do or be anything better in this area. Bottom line I don’t believe in myself as an true artist, a dabbler maybe, but not an artist. 

Yet, this year someone liked my dabbling enough to purchase my palette. Having my palette sell has me looking at myself as an artist in a new light.  I judge that this anonymous person believes in me. He/she saw something in what I created and chose to write a check.  I envision my piece gracing an office wall somewhere, all without my signature no less!  You see – this little act has changed my outlook as being a painter.  This change of mindset, and the fact that some one person believes in me, has given me the encouragement to try more, to stretch in my abilities, and to seek out ways to grow in this craft.

Having someone believe in you is so important,  whether you are a painter, a reader, or an author. We all need a cheerleader to encourage us and push us to new heights. We all need someone who will push you to find that hidden talent that is deep within.  And isn’t that what our writing conferences are all about, making believers out of those who lack the confidence?  The cheerleader that finds the nugget of goodness in each piece of writing to build upon and stretch the child into greatness? The voice of kindness and understanding, digging deeper to guide the child into authordom?  That is indeed what I believe I need to do each time I meet with a young author.  My role as a teacher of writing is to make each child believe that they too can have a piece of their work purchased someday!  It’s a lofty goal, but one worthy of envisioning, and seeing to fruition.

So thank you to the anonymous buyer of my art. Not only have you encouraged me in my artly ways, you have also reminded me that we all need believers in our lives! And that we too can be a believer for someone else!

My palette artwork 2019



The photo came across my my feed

Blood splattered across a statue of Jesus

The aftermath of a day of violence

So far away, yet so close to my heart.

I gasped as I saw the picture

Couldn’t look but a minute

Yet the image remains ingrained in my mind

Tearing at my heart, my soul.

Praying for all the victims

In mosques, synagogues, and other houses of worship

United by the Golden Rule

And a desire to love and live in peace.

Shattering peace on a holy Easter Sunday

And knowing it won’t be the last time

Why can’t we live in peace?


It’s Slice of Life Tuesday and I’m joining the community over at Two Writing Teachers by tagging my post. Check out the wonderful group of writers and consider joining in!