Just Us Girls

This doesn’t happen often–in fact, never. Coach needed to leave campus for a few hours and asked me if I could cover his class. Of course, I said yes. It was an all girls’ 7th grade PE class.

As they gathered in Room 30, they immediately wanted to know what we were going to do. Writing on the board was a suggestion along with going outside. I immediately shot those down. They were acting as if they were new to me. They should have known that they were going to sit down, get out something to read or something to work on, and read/work quietly. This was after all, my planning period.

Student #1: Ms. McCraw, can we ask you some questions?

Me: About English? About what’s going to be on your final?

Student #1: No, personal.

Them: Yeah!

Me: (Absolutely not!) Okay.

They excitedly gathered around my desk, and the questions started flying.

Student #1: Are you dating anyone?

Me: No. Do you have an uncle, cousin, neighbor?

Student #1:  Yeah, I got you, Ms. McCraw. I’ll hook you up!

All: Laughter

Student #2: I have two brothers.

Me: Yeah, but they’re little.

Student #2: Oh, yeah.

All: Laughter

They decided they were going to take turns saying whom they liked, and they did just that. A few of them were in “relationships” with boys and were “dating.”  I noticed that several of them liked the same boy.

Me: So everyone likes XYZ?

Them: Nooooo!

Me: Well, who does XYZ like?

Student #3: Me!

Me: Oh, cool!

They continued to talk about boys, the ones they liked and the ones they didn’t like. We talked about make up (on non-school days, some of them wear as much as or more than I do), they sang, danced, and sang some more. They combed each other’s hair, and laughed at inside jokes. It was a good class for PE/English.

I told them my most embarrassing moment in high school (that’s another blog). They too thought it was embarrassing, but that didn’t stop them from laughing.

I was impressed with how they interacted with one another, and I enjoyed having them in Room 30 for PE.

I Wish You Would!

What I Wore: Dress: Macy's Shoes: Off Broadway Shoes
What I Wore:
Dress: Macy’s
Shoes: Off Broadway Shoes

Meanwhile in Room 30, one of my classes has become rather mean spirited towards one another. If a student gives a wrong answer, they laugh. If a student mispronounces a word, they laugh. If someone drops their pencil bag, they laugh. Anything that happens, they laugh. Well today someone went to the board and put up the wrong answer. What did they do?  Yep, they laughed.

I had to use my teacher voice on them today. I went on for 10 minutes telling them that nothing was funny, no one is doing stand up comedy in this classroom, and we are all here to learn. I had to remind them that no one knows everything, and we need to patient with one another and encourage each other.

I also went on to say that if I laughed every time one of them made a mistake, I would laugh from the time they walked in to the time they walked out. Before it was over, I had banned laughing in my classroom. Yes, I banned laughing. I sure did.

There was complete silence and straight faces. All eyes were on me and then out of nowhere it happened. Wait for t, wait for it…I pooted.

And then I dared anybody to laugh.


The Anatomy of a Sentence

Let me begin by saying that I love Facebook. While I am part of a “closed group” for educators, I never post. I read and I “LIKE,” but I never post–until recently.

When I made my first post to the group’s page, I didn’t realize how people really felt about diagramming sentences.


Truthfully, I made that post because I liked the way I looked–that day. Since I was standing in front of the chalkboard, I added the caption: How many of you remember diagramming sentences? As you can see, that post got 1,871 likes and 327 comments (and counting?)

The comments ranged from people who loved it, did it, and teach it to those people who hate it, never did it, and don’t teach it. Personally, I love diagramming! It’s fun! Diagramming is a part of my classroom activities. Every day, we diagram sentences. I know, understand, and believe in the power of the diagram.

Education is always changing. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not so much. Sometimes the way things were done in the 70s can still be beneficial today. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Diagramming was one of those things.

Kitty Burns Florey asked, “Diagramming sentences: what, after all, is it good for?” “What does diagramming sentences teach us besides how to diagram sentences?”

It’s a bunch of lines–too many lines. Adjectives and adverbs on slanted lines, gerunds on stair steps. But that’s it! Every word in your sentence has a function, a job to do, and the diagram helps students understand that job and its importance to the sentence.

When you teach grammar to middle school students, you need every tool to help them succeed. The diagram is my tool.  The diagram helps me to teach grammar. By diagramming a sentence, my students can identify every word in a sentence–whether it’s a simple sentence, compound, complex, etc. If you are an English teacher and you don’t diagram, try it. You may like it. You may even see improvement in students’ grammar and writing.

Happy diagramming,




I’m a Nerd

The other day I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when a student came up and said this:

Student: Ms. McCraw, I’m a nerd.

Me: (blank stare) Okay, and I take it you’re okay with being a nerd.

Student: Yes ma’am, I’m cool. And you know what else?

Me: (blank stare) No.

Student: My friends are nerds, too.

Me: Do they know?

Student: Yes, ma’am. They know.

Me: (actually laughed out loud)

I can’t make this stuff up, y’all. I can.


Where’s My Demerit?

Meanwhile, in room 30…

Student: (comes up to my desk & whispers) Ms. McCraw, I did the wrong assignment.

Me: (whispering) What assignment did you do?

Student: Well, you know how we were supposed to write 5 sentences about our favorite place to visit then underline and identify the nouns?

Me: Yes, I know.

Students: I didn’t write about my favorite place to visit. I just wrote five random sentences.

Me: Well, did you underline and identify the nouns?

Student: Yes, ma’am.

The students proceed to read their sentences aloud identifying each noun as proper or common, concrete or abstract, and collective or compound.

Me: Very good class, put a 100 on your paper.

Student: (comes up to my desk & whispers) Ms. McCraw, what do I put on my paper?

Me: (whispering) What?

Student: Remember, I did the wrong assignment.

Me: Did you underline and identify the nouns in the sentences you wrote?

Student: Yes, ma’am.

Me: Then put a 100 on your paper.

At the end of the class, the student comes back to my desk.

Student: (whispering) Should I just wait here for my demerit?

Me: (no longer whispering) WHAT?

Student: Remember, I did the wrong assignment.

Me: (blank stare) Here. Take this demerit, fill it out, and bring it back to me signed by your parent.

I’m still waiting on that demerit.

Side note: If Ms. McCraw is passing out 100s, take one and move along.



You’re Welcome!

About 10 years ago, I had a student to come to a school dance where I was working the front door. We greeted one anther with the usual pleasantries, then he went on to tell me that because of me, he was making A’s in English, and he just wanted to say, “Thank you.” I was pleased to hear it. No one had ever came back to say, “Thank you, Ms. McCraw.” Needless to say, he got in the dance for free that day.

As you know I teach 6-8 grade English in a Catholic school in Spring, Tx (a suburb outside of Houston, Tx). This year I’ve had a record number of former students (9th graders) come back to say, “Thank you, Mrs. McCraw. It’s because of what you taught me in English that I am sailing through the 9th grade.”

A few weeks ago, we had Meet the Teacher night. We have several students who just graduated but have younger siblings at the school, so when their parents came to Meet the Teacher night, our former students came to. They had on their new school uniforms, and they looked so nice! I was only used to seeing them in our school uniform, so they looked so different to me in something other than blue and khaki.

They were all so excited, which made me excited. They went on about how they miss the school and the teachers and how everything they are doing in 9th grade English, they’ve already done in 8th grade English. A few of them said that they are the only ones in their class who know how to diagram sentences. Some said that when the teacher asked them to list as many prepositions as they could, they started singing the preposition song and was able to list them all. (Don’t thank me for that one, thank YouTube.) A few even said that they’ve already had to turn in an essay where they passed with flying colors. I got “thank yous” all night from former students and their parents. I’m not sure what they expected from 9th grade, I mean grammar is grammar, right? Diagramming is diagramming. Book reports are book reports. Maybe. Maybe not.

Each teacher is of course different, and each teacher brings to the classroom a certain “swag” if you will. I teach grammar. Everyday, I. Teach. Grammar. In Room 30, we write sentences, we diagram sentences. We study punctuation and types of sentences. We write book reports, we write essays. Everyday we practice our skills.

I am very proud of my students (former and current). I was glad to hear that they were confident in their new class and well prepared. To my former students, “You’re welcome!”

It may be another 10 years before someone else says, “Thank you, Ms. McCraw.” I’ll wait.

Happy teaching,


What I Wore: T-Shirt: Target Skirt: Versona Accessories Shoes: Off Broadway Shoes Necklace: Charming Charlie's Bracelet: Sam Moon
What I Wore:
T-Shirt: Target
Skirt: Versona Accessories
Shoes: Off Broadway Shoes
Necklace: Charming Charlie’s
Bracelet: Sam Moon

Pearls and Lace: A Celebration of Sisterhood (Part I)

A year ago I became a member of a very prestigious sorority, and this weekend, I am celebrating a special anniversary with some very special ladies. To begin the celebration, I checked into the Hilton Hotel NASA on Friday for a staycation—my very first. The hotel was, of course, marvelous. You wouldn’t expect anything less from Hilton Hotel, right? Friday’s OOTD was a lime green lace dress (lace dresses are in this season) with pink pearl sandals and pink pearl accessories. I was working a pearl and lace theme.

The ladies and I met at Hermann Park’s newest destination, Davis St. Hermann Park, where we ate, drank, talked, and laughed. In a nutshell, we had a blast! Davis St. was the perfect restaurant for us to kick back and enjoy.

#sisterhood #sisters #service #friends #anniversary #birthday #celebration



Friendly Letter vs Text Message


When I told my 6th grade students that we were going to begin a unit on letter writing, I was met with a lot of moans and groans. One student even said, “We don’t write letters, we text.” Well that may be true, but for the next week, they will be writing letters–friendly letters. (It’s in my curriculum, and I made a lesson plan for it, so it’s a done deal, y’all! They’re writing letters!)

I give them a topic, and they decide to whom they’d like to write. Along with the letter, they have to correctly address an envelope. They have a lot to say. Some of them are even funny. I think they enjoy letter writing. Who knew?

Their uproar made me think about today’s kids. There are many things they are growing up without. Things that my generation had and was happy to have it. One of those things is cursive writing. I couldn’t wait to write in cursive and with a pen! Today, my 6th graders come in with a pencil and everyday they ask if they are supposed to use a pencil or a pen. Everyday I remind them that this is not math class, and they need a pen–blue or black. I used to only accept blue pens, but I have since given up that battle. They also ask–everyday–if they should write in print or cursive. While I prefer cursive, they don’t always come to me knowing how to write in cursive, and since I am not the handwriting teacher, I accept print. At this point, I just need to be able to read what they are writing, so my everyday answer is, “Cursive or print–whichever you do neater.”

What I Wore: Dress. Dress Barn Shoes: Rack Room Shoes
What I Wore:
Dress: Dress Barn
Shoes: Rack Room Shoes

#iTeach #letterwriting #itsbecomingalostart #6thgradestrugglesarereal #lessonplansandprettydresses


Happy Birthday To Ya

FB_IMG_1433866179966People are celebrating their birthdays longer than they ever did. What I mean by that is that instead of having a birthday party on your actual birthday, people are having birthday weeks and birthday months. It’s great to celebrate your birthday–it means you’re still alive.

My friends are no exception to this trend. This weekend, I helped one of my sisters bring in her 37th birthday on Saturday night. We went to Bar 88 for drinks and dancing (I didn’t do either). I don’t usually do bars and clubs, but since this was my sister’s celebration, I was there with bells on. Another sister prepared some of the menu items, so we just ate, talked, people watched, and took pictures. It was so much fun! The next day, I helped that same sister celebrate her 37th birthday again at Peli Peli in the Galleria. I’d never been there before, and I must say I was apprehensive about the menu because I heard it was African food, and I’d never had African food before.

Peli Peli was great! The atmosphere was spectacular. The conversations between sisters were genuine, the menu was wonderful. This is still Houston Restaurant Week, so most of us ordered from the brunch menu or the lunch menu. A few sisters ordered from the dinner menu. For my first course, I had the samosa. It was like an eggroll with chicken and rice along with two dipping sauces. For my second course, I had the steak trio with roasted red potatoes, and sautéed baby spinach. My steak was so tender and well seasoned, I was mad when it was gone. Needless to say, it was all delicious! It was all $20.00! Our waiter told us about their happy hour, which they call happy day. I will definitely put them on my “must do again” list. First, I need to get a “must do again” list.

Tuesday is my sister’s actual birthday. We’ve been celebrating since Saturday and I’m exhausted. However, when she says that she wants me to help her celebrate her birthday, I will be there with bells on.

Happy birthday, Sunset! I love you, and may you have many more birthdays to celebrate.

#sisterhood #birthdays #celebration #happybirthdaytoyou #lessonplansandprettydresses


Read a Book, Write a Report

It’s time for book reports. My 7th grade students will be writing book reports this week and next week. I’ve had students who have done reports on this book before, but I think this is the first time I’ve had a female student to report on this book. Her perspective was different from the guys and in fact, it was because of her report that I decided to read this book.

The boys usually focus on Percy Jackson as being a demigod and having to search for the lightening that someone stole from Zeus and his adventures in fighting monsters and evil spirits. When the young lady reviewed this book, she focused more on Percy Jackson as being biracial saying that his mom was from the human race and his dad was a Greek god. She talked about him just trying to find a place to belong–he didn’t belong in his mother’s world and he desperately wanted attention from his dad even it that meant going to hell and back.

I thought it was.facebook_1440817244919 a unique perspective and one that I hadn’t heard before.

#iTeach #BookReports #WriteItDown #5ParagraphReport #PercyJackson #LessonPlansAndPrettyDresses