Mrs. McGriff's Reading Blog

Happy reading!

About Me

Dear Parent or Guardian,

This is me from the 8th grade.

This is me from the 8th grade.

I want to welcome your child to my language arts class this year.  I am excited about beginning my fifteenth year teaching language arts.  I still remember my 7th grade year.  Enjoy the picture from way back then.  I have lived in Jennings County in southern Indiana for the past twenty years.  I grew up in eastern North Carolina.  My husband, the District Forester at Selmier State Forest, grew up in northern Indiana.  We have a daughter, Anna.  In addition to our daughter, we also have a dog named Trixie.  When I am not teaching, I enjoy reading, hiking, scrap-booking, playing games, and chauffeuring my daughter to her activities.
I had a very busy but relaxing summer that spent many days on the road.  I vacationed with my husband’s extended family in the Wisconsin Dells.  Our day at the water park was a bust (a power outage shut down the park), but I enjoyed hiking and kayaking at Devil’s Lake State Park and horseback riding at a ranch, and touring Circus World.  I also helped my brother move from eastern North Carolina to Phoenix.  I can now say I have driven I-4o almost from one ocean to the other. We have enjoyed much produce from our garden, but I am getting tired of canning tomatoes.

This year of language arts will be full and productive.  You will read and write more than you ever thought possible!  I spent time this summer exploring new technology and connecting with other teachers across the country.  I can’t wait to share what I’ve been learning.  Each grading period we will focus on writing and reading as well as listening and speaking skills.  My writing instruction follows the format of Writing and Reading Workshop.  In Writing Workshop, students are expected to work as real writers.  They will choose the topics they want to write about and work to complete a piece of writing each grading period that they will “publish” or share with a wider audience.  For reading, students will choose books to read independently.  I expect every student to read 40 books by the end of the year.  They will also read and discuss books together in small groups.  I also lead the Survivor Book Club.   Look for more information about it coming soon.

I'm with my family at Devil's Lake State Park in Wisconsin.

I’m with my family at Devil’s Lake State Park in Wisconsin.

I hope this will be a successful year for your child.  Please feel free to contact me at any time about any concerns you have about the work your child is doing in my classes.  You can reach me at school (346-4940) or by email ([email protected] or [email protected]).  You can keep up with your child’s assignments on our class blog (

Your child will also have a blog page this year to publish writing and share thoughts about reading.  Please feel free to join in our conversations.  You can find your child’s latest posts under the blogroll on the right.  Click on your child’s name to visit their blog.

Below is the vision statement I wrote as part of my work with the IUS Writing Project.  I hope it captures what I would like for our classroom this year.

What I See

I see a room
where students overflow with words,
where books are passed from mind to mind
and writing spills across every page.

I see students
who devour book–
poetry and stories,
biographies and memoirs,
how-to guides and graphic novels,
magazines and websites–
who read during every spare moment.

I see students
eager to take about what they read:
to questions and challenge deeper truths,
to connect with the spaces in their lives.
They invite their friends and family
to read and talk, to celebrate books
at Survivor Book Club.

I see students
who discover that writing has meaning for their lives,
who discover that words have power to challenge injustices
and change their lives.

I see students
who share their writing–
entering contests,
submitting works to magazines and websites,
giving gifts of writing,
plastering the school with their words–
who are not afraid to be heard.

I see a community
where we are free
to share our words,
to think new thoughts,
to try and fail, then try again.

I see colleagues
who value time together–
to share ideas and build on successes,
to share problems and brainstorm solutions,
to read and research together–
who continually seek to stretch beyond
and make ourselves better.

I see my life
where reading, writing, teaching
come together
to point the way.


  1. Hello Mrs.McGriff, it’s Teisha Dewitt, Thought id recommend a book for your class called Firelight by Sophie Jordan. If they are interested in shapeshifters or dragon shifters then its a perfect book for them. Have a great school year, hope to hear from you soon! :)

  2. Hi Mrs. McGriff! I really enjoy our 2nd period class with you. Reading isn”t one of my top hobbies, but it is kind of exciting seeing all kinds of books in your classroom. There is a lot of books to definitly choose from!

    • I’m glad you are enjoying class! I know not all my students will become the avid bookworm that I am, but I hope you will discover the right book that will show you the exciting possibilities reading can bring. Let me know if I can help you find a GOOD book to read.

  3. this is lance youre seventh period student kinda confused about this whole thing well “bye :) love ur class

  4. This reading blog is very neat and organized. I love to read and that video of John Green. I want to blog for my students when I become a teaccher. And I am not just saying that because you are a teacher. I love school and I hope to become a teacher one day then a school counselor . But this blog I can always look to for ideas or ways to make people laugh.

    • I think you will make a good teacher. I hope you enjoy blogging this year in our class. Have you checked out the Vlog Brothers on YouTube yet?

      • No but I will because it sounds very interesting. Today, eleven minutes ago i finished Bullyville. It was a fantastic book. I loved it and if you have any other books like that or with the same author, I would love to read it.

        • I know Francine Prose has written other books, but I don’t have any. When we go to the library Thursday, we can see what they have.

  5. I liked reading about the thing you did over the Summer. I also liked looking at some og the books you have read. Some of them i might read.

    • I hope you can find lots of books you want to read on my blog! I can’t wait to read about the books you enjoy on your blog later this year.

  6. Heyas Mrs. McGriff, Teisha Dewitt here, thought id stop by and say hello. I really miss your class, High school english is alot harder then it seems like it should be. I miss how easy and fun your class was. Hope your having a great summer and hope to hear from you soon! :)

    • I’m glad you’re doing well and stopped by. It sounds like I should make my class harder (but still fun) to get you better ready for high school! What good books are you reading these days?

      • Well i decided to give in and read the hunger games, thats a pretty good book series.
        My personal favorites ive read recently is Tantalize by Cynthia Leitch Smith, The Runners series by Logan Rutherford, Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien And The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

  7. Hey, Mrs. Mcgriff…just wanted to pop in and c whats been going on in ur klass and on ur blog…i really miss language arts with u…u were so fun and exciting…it almost makes me want to cry thinking about the fun times i had in ur klass with anthony and preston and kinzy and dakota…i wish i was in 8th grade again, high skool is so boring…i feel like im sitting thru a lecture in every klass…well i have to go…im in stupid typing klass…ugh…lol :)

    • Hi MIchelle! It’s good to hear from you. I do still read your blog. I love the music posts. Thank you for the kind words. It’s that time of year when all my current students are telling me how bored they are! What should I tell them they have to look forward to in high school English?
      We’ve been doing lots of work on the blogs, and reading lots of books. I should have a new post of by next week that tells how many books each class has read. It’s pretty impressive. I’m also hoping to have an author visit each class (through Skype). We’ve already had one, Tessa Gratton. It was amazing!

    • i get how that is she is awsome

  8. I never knew Hagrid had a water fountain in front of his house!

    • He even has a roller coaster with hippographs oustide his hut, too! The best part, though, was riding the broomsticks through Howgarts and the Forbidden Forest!

  9. Hi Mrs.Mcgriff!!! This is one of youe old students from last year! :) I was wondering if you still had my username for Edublogs, because i really want to continue posting my poems and memiors! ^.^ I keep trying to get in, but it won’t let me! >.< Can you give me my old username please? And I was also wondering if you still had to be an administrator for my account. Lol
    I cried whenever i read Feed! it’s a really good book! you’ll love it! ^.^ lol

    • Hi Mackenzie–

      It’s good to hear from you. I hope you are having a good year. I am not still administrator on any accounts. If you removed me at the end of last year, you can request a new password from edublogs. If you didn’t remove me, I archived your blog and you won’t be able to get into it. You can create a new one for free. Just go to Click on the big “free” picture. That will take you to the sign up page. If you create a new account, send me the link. I’d love to read it.

  10. Dear Mrs. McGriff,

    I wanted to tell you that I am very impressed with your blog. I teach 9th grade English in Texas and I am trying to put together a site that works for my students. I will be using yours as a guideline for how to organize information.

    I admire you for (from what I can see here) maintaining such high standards for your students.

    -Miss C

  11. Through my google alerts I was led to your post adding The Pull of Gravity to your TBR pile. I hope you like it and am so thrilled you posted my trailer as well! Thank you!

    You seem like an amazing, energetic, enthusiastic teacher. I would be thrilled to pay a Skype visit to your classroom if you ever want to chat about the book and/or creative writing and writing for teens in general.

    Kindest regards,


  12. Love your blog. I want to do something similar. Blogging and edublogs is new to me. Do you have the teacher/pro edition? I want to create a blog, have my students create an individual blog, and have their blogs connected to mine. I just created a free one and looking at other teacher’s blogs. I want some feedback before I spend the money.


    Milton Perez
    7th grade ELA
    Chisholm Trail MS

    • I’ve been blogging for several years with my students and love it. I learn more every year about how to do it better. Edublogs offers great professional development resources on blogging, blogging with students, developing a PLN (professional learnning network), and more. I started with the free version and moved to the pro. The extra features and support is well worth the price, especially the ability to link my student’s blogs to mine and maintain administrative control over them. That way if something goes wrong on a student blog, I can log in as myself and sort it out when I have time. Thank you, too, for reading and commenting on my student’s blog. It means a great deal to get feedback through comments.

      • Thanks for the feedback. I want to do Pro for those reasons, but it says 50 student accounts. You are a middle school teacher like me which means we have 130-150 students. I’m confused by edublogs statments about managing 50 student accounts. Are they referring to special features/additions and not actually the number of students that can be linked with mine?
        Thanks again!

        • I believe I just answered my own question after a little more research. I’m setting one up now!

          • I have not upgraded any student blogs to the pro (no problems getting each of them free accounts) because I don’t know how to select which 50 to do so with. I’ve thought about offering it to the first 50 students to complete a blogging challenge–either through edublogs or one I set up myself.

            Good luck with your blogs! Let me know the link. I’d love to drop by.

            It’s still rough. I have a lot left to do.

  13. Hi Mrs. M! You commented my blog and asked where your students could get the fish widget I have on my blog. Your students can go to:

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  14. I have absolutely enjoyed reading through your blog today, especially the poem from your About Page.
    That connection with parents is so important.

  15. Hi Kay–

    Thanks for your kind remarks on my blog. I responded there, but I wanted to see what you did on your about page. I like the tone. It strikes that nice balance that works with middle schoolers–personal enough to catch their fancy, but adult enough to be who you are.

    One thing I can’t tell, though, is where you are geographically. Where is Jennings County? I know you have snow, but probably not as much as we do here in Minnesota. I am pretty sick of it by this point.

    I enjoyed the poem too. I have a separate poetry blog that I started, but it too is languishing in neglect. If you’d like to see it, it is at Dreaming Poetry.

    • Thanks for the kind words. Middle school is definitely a balancing act. I’m in southern Indiana. That is probably something I should add for readers beyond my classroom. I’m headed over to check out your poetry blog. I have a currently ignored blog at livejournal for my writing journey. It’s at A Writer’s Block

  16. Hi Kaye,
    Thanks for your comment on my blog and also for participating in the teacher’s blogging challenge. I used to write a letter introducing myself to parents at the beginning of each year, but I like the way you have done this on your blog. It is lovely when you get feedback from parents about their child – do you get many responses? When I ask students in the first week to take homework home for their parents to do (a letter about what they think are their child’s strengths, interests, goals and fears), they think it is funny!
    Keep up the great work!

    • I get tremendous response from parents and learn much more about my students than I ever would otherwise. I also send the letter home with students–not everyone has internet at home.

  17. Hello Mrs McGriff

    I am reading your about me page as part of the Edublogging Teacher Challenge.

    I really enjoyed reading your poem about your vision for your classroom. I feel very inspired now to go away and work a poem for my vision of my own classroom. Definatly a future post in the making !

    • Thanks! I wrote that poem as part of the Level 2 Institute for my local National Writing Project site. One of our goals that summer was to write a vision statement for our classroom. I share it with parents along with the letter to introduce myself. Let me have the link to your post when you write yours!

  18. Nice profile!:)



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