Sports Writing: Players and Coaches, Not Scores and Stats

I crossed a professional goal off of my bucket list this weekend. Presenting at a national journalism conference tested me, and I worked really hard to perfect my session. We’re talking hours and hours of work on nights and weekends on one 50-minute presentation.

It paid off.

I had roughly 100 students and a few advisers attend my presentation. They tweeted to me, answered my questions, asked questions, and even wanted selfies with me when the presentation was over. I’m going to say I succeeded in my job of engaging them in the material and giving them a handful of advice to take home and apply to their own publications.

I made it very clear to the group that I am not an expert, but I do have a lot of advice from experts. The advice I have taken from experts has made a difference in my school publications and my teaching ability. That’s the information I shared.

“Just write good stories.” and “People remember stories about PEOPLE.” I then explained to them how to do this and where to find these stories within their own schools.

I was worried about filling all 50 minutes since I tend to talk fast, but I wasn’t nervous at all. The time went by quickly, and I even cut one of the examples out to make sure we finished within the time provided.

#nhsjc in Dallas was a success on many levels, and I’m thankful for the opportunity.


Everything is bigger in Texas, right?

Nearly 5,000 student journalists from 44 states are present for this year’s fall National High School Journalism Conference.

Thursday’s travel was quick and painless. John and I arrived in Texas in time for a late breakfast. Since the opening ceremonies didn’t start until 7:30 p.m., we spent the day exploring. Feeling the sun and warmth on my face left me feeling calm despite my nerves for the rest of the weekend.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I registered to take the CJE (Certified Journalism Exam), which is simply a recognized accreditation among journalism educators. It doesn’t earn me any licensure credit. It’s simply a way to test myself as an educator to make sure I am knowledgeable in my content area and teaching what I should to my students. The areas on the test included: Scholastic Media Law, The First Amendment, Censorship, Functions and Limitations, Writing Styles and Angles, Multimedia Design, Photography and Photojournalism, Hard News and Soft News, Staff Management, Web Managment, and Basic Elements of Design, just to name a few.

Thirty educators took the exam in one packed room, and we had three hours to complete the test. I finished in 2.5 hours, and my brain was going to explode. I will receive my score in 4-6 weeks.

The rest of my Friday night was spent judging yearbook captions and copy with other advisers. We had over 50 submissions to judge and rate in categories of Superior, Excellent, Honorable Mention, and No Award. Students will be honored on Sunday if they received an award. Although I was a judge, I learned a lot about improvements I need to bring back to my own classroom.

This weekend is flying by and I’m looking forward to some downtime soon. For now, I’m off to present!

Turkey Trot ’17

My Turkey Trot playlist intentionally consisted of 39 minutes of music.

As I pulled together songs while getting ready Saturday morning, I wanted another incentive to make my goal of completing the 8k (five miles) in under 40 minutes.

It took the first two miles to warm up, and I set into a good pace of 7:35 per mile.

I checked my watch at the halfway mark. It read 19 minutes, and I knew I couldn’t slow down. This was my goal, and goals aren’t supposed to be easy.

The hill at the end left my legs feeling like dead weight, but I crossed the line at an unofficial 38 minutes.

Mission accomplish!

Despite the 34-degree start, participation was awesome. As much as I hate the cold, this race always seems to be my favorite of the year because so many people show up to run in support of local mental and physical health groups as well as raising money to feed school lunches to students who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

Thanks to my super fans, John and Elijah who braved the cold and wind.

Celebration of 96 Years

96 years includes a lot of reasons to celebrate. 

We were lucky enough to have some advance warning, and we said our goodbyes to John’s grandma two weeks ago when she was put on hospice.

She laughed when Elijah stole the remote from her nightstand, and she reminded us how much she prayed for him when he was born.

The following week, God decided it was time for Lillian to join Him.

My first memory of John’s grandma includes John taking me to her home. John was living there that summer, so it was his home, too. His grandma came home after a church meeting and asked if John had made me anything for dinner. When I said no, she scolded John, handed him money, and gave him instructions to take me to the Subway in town.

She was used to taking care of people, as a single mom of four kids. As if this wasn’t enough chaos, she worked as a school teacher her entire life.

Whether it was past students writing their sympathy on her facebook or the family testimonies at the funeral, it’s obvious Lillian is and always will be in the hearts of many.

Halloween 2017

High pitched squeals, racing feet, open arms, and a giant smile are typically the scene when I pick Elijah up from daycare. This was not the case on Halloween. Elijah did not want to leave his Halloween party. Treats, decorations, costumes, and his friends were way cooler than going home with mom.

Little did he know that we had a fun night of visitors and trick-or-treating planned.

Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Deb stopped by for reverse trick-or-treating, as they brought the treats to us.

We made it to a few of the neighbors, and my favorite part was watching Elijah observe all of the other kids out and about. He was more entertained by all of the costumes and the evening energy than by any thought of candy.

After a few houses, Elijah and I took charge of the front door. He was equally excited by all of the kids ringing the doorbell and yelling trick-or-treat.

I’m not ready to admit October is over. I’ll eat Halloween candy and watch Stranger Things on Netflix while I pretend Fall is just getting started.

ITEC as a Mom

ITEC encourages me to take a new mentality into my classroom. Remember “Live in Bata“? That wasn’t just a one year motto. It worked, and I’ve kept it up. Of course the conference also provides me with plenty of technology tools to use within my classroom, but that motto changed me as a teacher.

As the mom of a toddler, the slogan is seeping into my home life and reminding me of such a powerful lesson.

Play is a powerful tool.

One of the sessions suggested all parents watch this video: 5 Dangerous things you should your child do.


While I don’t have any intentions of handing Elijah a knife or fire just yet, the neat freak in me can always use the reminder that learning can be dirty.

Whether it’s sand at the park, puddles on the way into daycare in the morning, paint for pumpkins, or even more cookie dough in his hair than on the pan, there is power in play. I can’t let my irritation of a mess, an extra set or clothes, and an extra bath take that power away.

God bless you, little boy.

Explore. Play.

…and please, take me along.

Fierce Tiger

I will pick out Elijah’s Halloween costume for as long as he allows. Animals every year would be my preference.

Last year he was a puppy, and this year he perfected his scary growl (with a side of a giggle) to be a fierce tiger.

Last night we participated in Elijah’s daycare’s trick-or-treating event. Even his teachers were surprised by how shy he was, but I think the whole idea of going around and getting candy is just hard to grasp.

The event was great practice for trick-or-treating next week, and I love that we had an excuse to put Elijah in his costume another time. Rawr!

Pumpkin Patch 2017

Thanks to Paige, Tony, and Harlow for inviting us on their family pumpkin patch date over the weekend. We went to the Blank Park Zoo with these three back in July, and it’s so fun to have kids similar in age.

Harlow and Elijah didn’t mind running around in the rain, but thankfully it stopped about 30 minutes after we arrived. Harlow wasn’t walking the last time we were together, so it was fun to witness her independence.

Speaking of independence, check out these two riding in the train all by themselves! They screamed in delight the entire time, and the man driving said it was his favorite ride. They absolutely loved it.

If you follow me on snapchat, you know Elijah loves to “CrossFit”. He literally pushes everything he can find. From our real lawn mower to tables and chairs, this kid is weight training. He’s strong. We let him use his strength to pick out and load pumpkins. John’s promise to Elijah was that if Elijah could lift it into the wagon, John would buy it. Thankfully Elijah got distracted after two pumpkins, which now sit on our front porch. I’m looking forward to painting these with him later this week.

ITEC 2017


ITEC (Iowa Technology and Education Connection) is not a new topic to this blog, and I hope I can continue to attend year-after-year.

Monday and Tuesday were the best PD I’ve ever attended, no exaggeration. I even witnessed the best keynote I’ve ever heard. I encourage you to look up speaker Dr. Buddy Berry. This clip is not his exact keynote, but it does highlight some of the incredible aspects he brings to his school. He doesn’t just talk about innovation, he lives it, breaths it, and then goes out an encourages other people to do the same.

Monday’s highlights included:

Speedgeeking with Aaron Mauer. Thank you for reminding me about the work/home life balance.

Blue Lobster with Buddy Berry. Our keynote speaker was so good that I stayed with him for another session. He encouraged us to engage students by using four different baits. My favorite of these is “Yes, and…” thinking. What passion projects can we get our students so excited about that they want to come to school?

Real or Fake with Dean Shareski. Fake news was a huge topic at this conference. I’ll definitely be bringing these lessons and strategies back into my classroom.

Tuesday’s highlights included:

Reading for Depth– Actively Learn. I already enrolled my freshmen into a course on Actively Learn and we completed our first lesson during first period today.

Personalized PD by Jarod Bormann. PD = Professional Driven (not professional development). Passion projects for teachers.

GoogleGeeking with Aaron Mauer. All google shortcuts to save time and make more time for more important things in your life.

On top of all of this, my friend and coworker, Sarah, and I presented on Authentic Learning on Tuesday afternoon. Roughly 15 educators attended our “not a sit and get” session, and we had some valuable conversations regarding making the learning in our classrooms connect with the real-world.

If you want to talk about any of these elements, just say the word. I’m flying high about teaching after this conference.