#SOL17: First Day

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The bus turns the corner.

My last check to see that everything is in my car.

One picture down.  It’s kind of gloomy.  No sunshine for this auspicious day.

The brakes squeak as the bus pulls to a stop in the road.  I hear the stop sign pop as it is extended.  “Smile!  Just one more picture!”

He takes three steps, turns, and looks.  I snap the photo. He starts up the steps.

I’m sure it’s blurred.  Tears stream down my cheeks.

This would not be the day to take a lousy picture.

I watch as he walks down the aisle and chooses a seat.  Third row. Behind his friends.  He looks happy but he was so quiet this morning.  Only the top of his head is visible from outside the window.

The driver looks down.  Closes the door and the bus lumbers down the road.

  I hop in my car.  Five miles and I will be at school for my son’s second “First Day of School” picture.  It’s 1995.  The First Day of School. No digital pictures.

As a teacher, how do your own personal “First Days” impact your attention to detail in your classroom?

What are you planning for this year?  Why?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

Flip a Coin!


Which should we do?

How do we plan?

What’s for dinner?

When are we going to the store?

What is essential?

Our answers are NOT the same as they were March 1st. It’s amazing that a month has made such a difference in our daily lives. So many new views. So many new plans. So many books to read and stories to write. Choices used to feel more black and white with opposites as choices. Lately choices seem to vary more.

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How many choices?  It may depend on the question.  Perhaps we even have to back up before we can go forward.

How do we make decisions?

Some folks use decision trees to lay out their options for high stakes decisions. If the question is Which do you want with dinner:  tap water, water with ice, bottled water, or water with lemon? you may not need a decision tree. It’s a fairly easy decision. You might flip a coin if you are feeling adventurous or just can’t seem to make a decision. But if you are making a decision about enrolling in a class, you may lay out your options in a decision tree. (Link)

The chart below came from twitter and Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke’s  work in their new book, Read the World. From this chart, many believe that their are two choices for schools and teachers as they plan for technology-delivered instructional sessions:  synchronous and asynchronous.  Check out thes echaracteristics as you think about what a THIRD or FOURTH category might be.


I’ve been teaching online grad classes for over a decade now and we are NOT allowed to have synchronous sessions.  The goal is to be flexible when meeting the needs of students.  Prior to this, I also taught blended courses that I really liked because we built community, trust, and shared expectations with synchronous sessions as beginning and ending bookends and then filled in the learning time with asynchronous sessions.  This flexibility was appreciated by students who were teachers, coaches, administrators with multiple demands on their time from work, school, families and other commitments.

How would you determine whether synchronous or asynchronous would be best for your students? 

What would be your key criteria? 

What role would equity play in your decision?

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum in March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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How many devices?

Daily writing withdrawals are real after 31 straight days of posting with #SOLSC20.  This morning I thought I would return to my pre-March schedule of early morning reading and writing. But my brain has been puzzled by an “off kilter feeling.” The last two days have felt disconcerting and uncomfortable as I navigated Zoom links, a Trail Guide and learning via distance media.

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WHY was it so difficult?

My standard process is to listen and absorb with my chromebook as my note taking device and my phone as a snapshot archivist and a tool for tweeting.  During this institute, my chromebook is my source of information – auditory and visual – as well as the navigation to move from session to session.

That moved my phone to note taking duties. Simple enough as my google doc was all set up with time frames,  speakers, and links.  Yet I was not prepared to enter all my notes on that teeny, tiny keyboard. Not. prepared. at. all. No tweeting during learning. Still in new learning management mode. Off kilter. Stressed.

What I missed most?

Saving seats for friends. Sitting in the front row. Checking in with a friend to make sure my notes were accurate.


Distance learning

Is not just a change in location

It’s a change in processing

It’s a change in responding

The new reality . . .

Safe learning is hard!

Change is hard!

How many devices do I need for a remote learning institute?

One for viewing that allows me to participate in break out rooms and see all the visuals.  A second device is needed for recording notes and thoughts as I process the information.  And the surprising third device in order to connect with attendees, tweet out words of wisdom, and look up additional resources. Bandwidth limitations that cause Zoom to freeze rule out the practicality of having three simultaneously connected devices, but that’s my dream. Learning. Sharing. Thinking. All from a Virtual Literacy Institute!

How has a virtual world impacted your learning as a facilitator or as a learner?  What words of wisdom can you share?


#SOLSC20: Day 31

The last day of March heralds the last day of required consecutive blogging. for my seventh year of slicing.  Blogging is a comfortable habit. Most days my blog posts are efficiently and effectively drafted, revised and posted. Most. days.  But then there are those days when technology reminds me who is really in charge.

So for the last day, an old but comfortable format.

Link 1 from 2017

Link 2 from 2016

Link 3 from 2015

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Waiting impatiently for my coffee to brew.

Rejoicing in the silence.

Peering into the zero dark thirty for an indication of the weather today.

Checking my links for today’s Zoom meetings.

Wondering how I lost the link to yesterday’s 5 pm Zoom session.

Mentally checking to see if my google doc is set up for my notes.

Counting off the number of Zoom sessions for today as well as my list to see if I REALLY have all my links.

Reviewing the  pages of photo album “scrap booked” for the great niece graduate.

Reading the next stack of “sorted” pictures to see if they are all alike.

Wishing I had the Trail Guide printed out so I didn’t have to jump from tab to tab (says the Queen of 101+ open tabs)!

Absorbing the heat from my coffee cup with both hands.

Checking my Flair pens to see what other colors work well on my blue paper.

Sifting mentally through ideas for today’s slice.

Bouncing from task to task to task.

Previewing my 801st blog post.

Rereading to see if the post makes sense!

Pushing the publish button for today.

What are you doing, currently? 

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum in March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOLSC20: Day 30

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So many ways to learn online . . .

This notice pops up on my FB timeline:

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These three notices were on Twitter.

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And I can read professional books.

These are just a few of the books that I am currently re-reading as I plan for this #G2Great learning opportunity this week.

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What is your learning plan for today? 

What is your learning plan for the week? 

Where do your ideas/information come from?

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum in March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOLSC20: Day 29

I do want to create art beyond rage. Cisneros (link)

Yesterday was designated for art. I’m on to a new project. Photos for a graduation album. Collecting, sorting, scanning, curating, printing.

Rinse and repeat.

BUT . . .

I hit a snag.

Upload one to a local store for printing was quick.

4 pictures.

Upload two: same store and same app was deliciously simple.

12 pictures.

Upload three . . .

. . .

. . .

In an hour three pictures uploaded.

Plan B. Put on a flash drive via zip files for downloading and printing.

Zip file created.

Downloaded to flash drive.

Two hours waiting.


Love it when it works.

HATE it when it FAILS.

Never did find a way to make the computer, app, or flash drive cough up the files with multiple restarts and complete shut downs.

Today . . .

My curiosity led me to check . . .

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And then I checked in with the test directly through the provider. . .

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Faster download by .44 mbps.  Slower upload by .05 mbps.

One device connected and on. ONE!

Is this significant?

When I posted Tweets from my phone, I did not see them on my computer for hours.

Two devices connected and on.

Was it a surprise that the Speed Test associated with the internet provider typically gives different data from other speed tests?  No, because I have had this conversation with

the provider,

customer service, and

repair technicians.

My internet provider lists this as “High Speed Connection” but as more “connect” in the area, service degrades. There is no other viable option in my rural area as satellite connections are worse with daily interruptions!

Today’s lessons/reminders:

  1. “High speed” is not necessarily high speed.
  2. Data from the company providing the service/info needs to be considered as one source.
  3. Turning devices on/off is a great place to start, but sometimes glitches and errors need to just wait for a sunny day!

When has technology not cooperated? 

What was your solution? 

Were you able to creatively problem solve/resolve the issue? 

What connections did you think of while reading this post?

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum in March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOLSC20: Day 28

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Still 60 seconds in a minute

And 60 minutes in an hour,

Yet hours slip by.

Alarms buzz,

Snooze is pressed,

And time slips by.

Schedules adjust

Days become monotonizingly the same

TGI . . . what? And time slips by.

School buses remain in bus barns,

Churches are shuttered,

And days slip by.

Home 24/7 and tasks remain unfinished

Deadlines seem relaxed,

And weeks slip by.

Time, adrift without a schedule,

Time, unprioritized externally,

          Time slips by.

How have changing schedules impacted you and your community? 

How are your keeping track of time and days?

How are you maintaining goals and purposes and mental sanity?

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum in March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOLSC20: Day 27

BUT . . .

I don’t know how to make a quilt. I have seen them in various stages.  I remember my hair being sewn into a quilt when I was five and playing under the quilt as the aunts and cousins quilted.  I know some of the processes and skills, but I lack the practical knowledge that comes from making a quilt. I can’t . . .  I don’t . . .

But do I have the requisite skills and knowledge?

But can I really do this _____?

Last week I sewed my first quilt top. I bought a piece of fabric that just absolutely screamed my grandson’s name. I consulted to see what form it might take. And then I took that hard first step. I bought more fabric and committed to a pattern. Luckily I turned to an expert for the cutting. Constantly checking the two pages of directions. . . Reading, rereading, re-calculating where I changed the pattern. (Gasp!) Was it brave or foolish to modify a pattern that I had never used?

BUT . . .  Such a little word, but so important as it often adds a caution and perhaps stops further study or action.

BUT . . . Maybe it will remove doubt. Or free your mind. Maybe it will be the source of inspiration, perspiration, or innovation . . .

Here is one example from page 15 of the free chapter.

Entry into Writing Workshop

Do I need to teach the steps of the writing process before beginning writing workshop?

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Not if it adds major stress to your current life.

BUT, what if writing workshop actually reduced screen time for you, your students, and/or your students’ families?  Support students with WHAT they need.  Don’t second guess. Have them show their writing. Begin where they are.

The style and format of this book puts authors Katherine Bomer and Corinne Arens by your side as your virtual teaching assistants to help you think about Time, Choice, and Response!

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Check out this free chapter from Heinemann here.

Check out the Wakelet from the #G2Great chat on 3/26/2020 here.

How can you use “But…?” to answer questions, clarify, and move to action? 

How can “But…?” become a source of power in your life?

Watch and listen to how you use “But…” in your life!

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum in March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOLSC20: Day 26

          School-Based Work Study

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Every afternoon I would report to the library in a local junior high for two hours.  The library had one small section that became my area to manage.  I was in charge of the AV resources.  I would check out 9 mm film loops to students. When the film loops returned, I would check them in, rewind when necessary, and reshelve.

Some days film loops would already be waiting in a RETURNED bin to be processed and returned to the shelves.  Other days might find business to be slow with few checkouts or returns. That allowed me to have time to “read the shelves” and check that the film loops were in numerical order.

Either way, organizing and placing the film loops in their correct places enabled users to quickly find them for check out purposes. Some teachers asked students to watch a video during their library study hall. Other students watched the film loop to “make up” instruction that they had missed. Video resources that were “in addition to” classroom instruction and prior to computers for student use.

Was this a precursor to “online” and personalized instruction? 

Did every student have access?

Was this technology “innovative”?  

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum in March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOLSC20: Day 25

As I listed jobs in my work history this week, I wondered if some of my college work study jobs were hints of my future and my fascination with some of the tools currently available in my life. This picture of phone evolution did not include the wall party line phone that I remember from my childhood. More recently I do remember the various iterations of “cell phones” from bag phones that remained in the car to cell phones that fit into my pocket.

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One work study job was a favorite because I could literally work in my pajamas. No one saw me especially on weekends.  Quiet, peaceful weekends. I could literally go from my dorm room to work in less than a minute without leaving the building. My travel path meant walking down one hall, going downstairs and across the hall. Convenient!

Does this picture look familiar?  What do you think of when you see this image?

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A search of Google Images found this picture above of a 1970s switchboard.  Physically connecting phones by plugging in the connections. My switchboard did not look like that! But I find the picture fascinating as this would have required fine motor skills and memory far beyond my capabilities.

I don’t find actual pictures of the switchboard in my college pictures.  At the time the job was important for covering costs of college. I’m sure that I didn’t think it “newsworthy” to capture this job setting. Switchboard operator was just one of my three work study jobs.  The device we used was similar to this because it sat on a desk and was about this size to the best of my recollection.

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The buttons lit up when the phone rang.  I had lists of extensions to transfer calls to specific offices. I had a specific protocol to respond to calls.

Good morning, this is Ottumwa Heights College.  How may I direct your call?

No voice mail. Nada. I wrote messages on pink message slips put into mailboxes that resided in an office that I accessed at the end of my shift through a door on the south wall.  A switchboard sitting on a desk in a room barely bigger than a closet.  A phone system that distributed calls to college offices. No phones in the dorm rooms.

How did we ever survive?

I remember that I was paid to talk.  To communicate clearly. To be polite. To match “customer” requests with their needs.  Sometimes the caller would not know the specific office that they needed.  Being helpful meant that I would listen to their brief request or story and match it with the corresponding number/office to provide answers.

Precursor to googling for answers?

A search for solutions?

A job in comfy clothes?

All of those factors played into my college work study job of switchboard operator.

What “interesting” jobs have you had? 

Did the skills required for your job relate to or impact your current job/work? 

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum in March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOLSC20: Day 24


First Job

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Summer Job?  Check

Daytime hours? Check

Outside work? Check

Great pay? For that time in history . . .

It was a rite of passage.  Turning 14 so you could get a summer job and earn money. Literally, out standing in corn fields. Detasselling corn. Working for three to four weeks to quickly remove the tassels from the seed corn in the designated fields. Big business that paid $1.50 an hour.

I remember . . .

hot, sticky days when we prayed for a breeze to lift the humidity

the dew on the corn as the leaves cut your skin as you raced through the rows

riding on a machine meant looking down on the corn and the obvious tassels

having a radio to help the days pass more quickly

the difference in supervisors and their expectations

literally being stuck in the mud after a week of rain

the sun burn and the “farmer’s tan lines”

days of double shifts and working 14 hour days

wearing garbage bags as raincoats

praying for lightning in order to have a day off

tired, deep down, bone-tired and yet

a community of workers who laughed, talked, and shared life stories

Learning that still sticks: the value of hard work, the impact of promises made, and that the body can endure what the mind finds tolerable.

What do you remember from your first job? 

What were some of the lessons learned?

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum in March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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