new school year, same apathy toward blogging

Since I last visited my own blog site, I’ve moved to another state and started teaching 9th grade for the 3rd year in a row. A whole bunch has happened that I’m SURE is blog-worthy.

I occasionally contract these grandiose ideas about how often I’m going to blog. (I call it “contracting grandiose ideas” because sometimes that’s how it feels- I NEED to be blogging, it’s that important…)

Then life gets in the way, the feeling doesn’t just get put on the back burner; it’s taken off the stove completely. When I go back and read what I’ve posted in the past, I get that fire in me again, but it eventually dies too.

I may as well post something worthwhile and tell you what I’m reading…

I just finished The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. It was chilling in most places and beautiful in some others.

Image result

Now, I’m reading Finding Manana by Mirta Ojito because it was on the shelf in my classroom and I’d never read it. It’s a memoir of a Cuban refugee. I really like it so far.

Image result

I’m also reading The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor because told me I should. Oh, how I love that website!

Image result

I think my next post will be a tribute to my artistic students’ awesome work. They hand me such beautiful pieces, there’s no reason not to share them with y’all.

‘Til then! 🙂


Book Update

It’s been a couple months since I posted about what I’m reading. I thought I’d catch everyone up…

I finished Kiera Cass’ Selection series. Happily Ever After is just as cheesy and sweet as we’d hope.

I re-read Davis Sedaris’ When You are Engulfed in Flames. Because greatness must sometimes be revisited. He is one of my favorite authors. He is hilarious and real and I want to be his best friend.

Last year, I read Gone Girl when that was all hyped up… before I watched the movie, which bytheway did not disappoint. And since I loved that so much, I frequently entered that title in to and one of the top titles was always The Silent Wife by ASA Harrison. Well, I finally got around to reading that and it is wonderful. It has that same creep factor that Gone Girl did.

Lastly, I have been devouring Augusten Burrough’s work. I started with Running with Scissors last summer, I think. Just recently, I read Dry, which is his story of his battle with sobriety. It is eye-opening and shocking in all the right places.

Right now, I am reading both Possible Side Effects and Magical Thinking. They are both great. Both collections of short pieces with I LOVE.


I tried.

I love the idea of a healthy snack that I can eat ALL of. And a sweet friend of mine had a test to study for on Wednesday night, so I figured I could keep some and share some of a healthy snack… I decided to make bite size healthy “muffins.”

I put that in quotes because, as it turned out, there was nothing muffin-like about them. Well, ok. They looked like muffins.

I used this recipe from a blog called The Lean Green Bean. Too cute. I bet when the LGB blogger makes them, they are great.

I failed.

C tried them, bless his heart. He hates telling me he doesn’t like anything I cook. His response: “Not your best, babe.” Thanks, Sweets.

On another note, I found a writing prompt I plan to give my 8th and 9th grade students:


Here’s my attempt:

Accept defeat.
Be nice.
Call your mom.
Do your homework.
Envy no one.
Face your fears.
Grow from your failure.
Help Mom with the groceries.
Invite the nerdy kid.
Jump in first. You’ll look most confident.
Keep your promises.
Learn something new every day.
Make a good first impression.
Never fry bacon naked.
Open the door for old people.
Put your phone down.
Question authority… respectfully.
Remember Dad’s birthday.
Stand up for yourself.
Take only photographs. Leave only footprints.
Understand that life isn’t fair.
Value your family.
Watch out for falling rocks.
“Xpect” greatness.
Yield to pedestrians.
Z… is a hard letter. I’m stuck. If you come up with anything, feel free to comment. 🙂

Most importantly, respect the system.

5 Things I Want my Walmart Cashier/Bagger to Know…

  1. I can see that your job is most of the time very redundant, broken up by moments of nonsense drama from customers who don’t have their lives together. I respect you.
  2. I have my life together. If I seem annoyed, it is unlikely your fault. It is the fault of the customer in front of me… taking up my precious time, and yours.
  3. As you scan and bag, I would appreciate absolute discretion. I am a teacher in West Memphis. Everyone of my students is in this store at the exact moment I am. That bottle of wine, those new underpants, the giant TUB of cookie dough… scan fast, my friend. Bag faster. This is not a drill.
  4. I have looked at your name tag. I’d like to use your name in my greeting to you. I want to say the words, “How’s your day been, James/Jamal/Jose/Janet.” But unfortunately your name reads “Ja’Quishana,” and I am left bewildered. There’s a chance I’ll ask you to pronounce it. I love it when you are gracious about this.
  5. And most importantly, the order of the items placed on this conveyor belt is no accident. Respect the system. Bag accordingly.

The Real Lesson Plan


I just recently ran across an article titled “10 Things Every Graduating Student Needs to Know.” This inspired me to write my own Top 10 List-

What I want my students to know by the time they leave my class:

  1. Not knowing is okay, but not trying is unacceptable.
  2. Put some thought into the rest of your high school career. Most of our students are allowed to choose some college courses to begin during their 10th grade year- What an advantage!
  3. That said, if you decide to change you career decision, it’s not the end of the world. Decide on a dream and work toward it.
  4. Know who you can trust with the big decisions in your life.
  5. Listen to your gut- if someone doesn’t seem trustworthy, they probably aren’t. You are allowed to cut people out of your life.
  6. Be honest. You may hurt some feelings, but people will trust you and that matters.
  7. You won’t always win. Life is rarely fair. This does not mean that you are cursed, or unlucky. It means that there was a lesson you needed to learn. Learn from it and move on.
  8. Also, how you react to failure says SO much about who you are.
  9. I don’t like fantasy or supernatural books. I just recently started reading biographies. Find what YOU like to read. Read as much as possible. Historical fiction, comic books, dystopian novels, hunting magazines, engine manuals. The more you read, the more words you know. Words are powerful.
  10. You are not better than anyone else. You have a story, just as everyone else. Respect everyone’s story.

Forever learning… (1/28)

Yesterday, my Principal taught a mini lesson to my students while I was in a very short meeting with a parent. I didn’t ask him to, he just had an idea that would keep them engaged, and perhaps teach them something they didn’t already know. I was outside the classroom for maybe 3 minutes. When I walked in, he was at the board, adding numbers to a ruler he’d drawn. The students’ eyes were all on him.

One student told me after he left, “Miss Carlson, I finally understand! I wouldn’t have failed my ruler test if he’d taught me!”

The lesson was a bit off topic, as we are in the middle of The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Regardless, I was very thankful for his time. I very much enjoyed watching him teach.

My Lit Coach has been teaching my 1st period English class for a couple of months now. Last 9 weeks, our 9th grade students listened to the Serial podcast. This semester we are reading Romeo and Juliet. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to watch another teacher in action. We teachers so rarely have this opportunity. We are loners for the most part. We have endless time to discuss what has occurred in our classrooms after the fact, but it is not often that we can witness the lessons personally. I do not take all of the lessons directly from this 1st period class. My other 9th graders often are assigned other activities.

I say all this to say that is a blessing to me to see the strategies that other teachers use to teach and talk to our students.