#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

#SOL21: Palindromes

Another one on the odometer.

How many do you think are a part of the December calendar?

Guess quickly!

Last Thursday was a special day. It seemed like a normal day until I wrote out the date. Format does matter! It was the second of December. It was a palindrome and an ambigram. It could be written several ways and the palindrome would still hold. Would the ambigram?


Also as 12.02.2021

Quick. Think about your “guess” and your need to revise it. Should you go up? Or down?




Last chance!

So, how many days in December are palindromes?










and now the tough ones . . .



Did you guess 11? Are there others?

When does a quick estimate give you a chance to reflect on your thinking?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: And Next . . .

“Five more minutes to finish this, and then two minutes to tidy up,

And then I am done for tonight.”

That’s my announcement. Great work session. Making progress. But it’s almost 11 pm and it’s time to shut down for the night.

‘Tis the season. Flurries twice. Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror. December arrives shortly. And . . .

I’m done with all my big Christmas presents. They are out of my hands. Some will still have some finishing touches, perhaps some embellishment. And ah, yes, some binding. But the initial creations are done.

Tonight I had a leisurely opportunity to work on some squares for my own quilt. My first quilt. My first real project for myself.

It began with a quilt in a shop. I snapped a picture. I was looking for a square to use for my KISS block at Quilt Club. The quilt grew on me. Not exactly as in the format in my picture but that basic plan.


Design the square.


Find coordinating fabrics

(And not those PASTELS in the original)

Three coordinating fabrics in each color.

(Took two shops!)

Organize the purple, blue, green, red, and yellows.

Revise the quilt square pattern.

Start sewing.

Two strips and then cut to a 3″ by 5.5″ rectangle.

Sew 2 rectangles together to form a square with black squares ascending.

Carefully trim.

Keeping the parts of the block square from the beginning is important!

Match each assembled block with a medium block in a coordinating color.

A partial look at the rows.

I did not see the original name. I consider the possibilities for a name for the quilt top. I called it stepping up as the black steps rise up into heaven. There will be alternating rows. Right now I’m leaning towards a 10 ” by 10″ pattern.

Approximately 100 squares. 50 plain and 50 of these sewn squares. No deadlines YET. 18 squares sewn! (36% of the sewn squares are already completed!)

My creative endeavor. Maybe it will be done in 2022 . . . or not! Here are the four squares just added.

When do you create something for yourself? What’s your process? How do you set goals?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: #NCTE21

Two persons per hose

Bodies bent

Controlling the direction of the water

Water under pressure

Water, attempting to be free

Water, a necessary solution

Two persons per fire hose.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As a volunteer firefighter for a decade in our rural community, our equipment was a bit different. We had a tanker truck. Our rural community typically had more grass fires or equipment fires than building fires. Our weapons were gunnysacks that starved the oxygen fuel as we beat it out. Time and wind were our enemies. We would curse a wind shift that accelerated the fires advance through a hay field. We would cheer a wind shift that sent the tongues of fire back over acres already burnt black – seeking out tiny morsels to feed its appetite.

Fire hoses

Capable of carrying steady streams of life-saving water

Fire hoses

Requiring two trained firefighters to control their aim.

Fire hoses

Tools found in fire stations around the world.

Fire hoses

Conduits connecting harsh realities with an opportunity for redemption.

And yet yesterday I tweeted out:

Attending the #NCTE21 conference was like “drinking from a fire hose,”

Words, concepts, ideas, discussion and even “break out rooms a la Zoom”.



Under pressure

Zoom fatigue set in after a point. Trying to catch every word. Every resource. Forgetting to move during breaks. The rush to set up for the next session. The fear of sessions closing.

However, Zoom access is critical for the survival of face to face conferences with 300+ sessions that are all worthy of attendance and necessary for learning.

The program was extensive. Some webinars were “live”. Some webinars were pre-recorded. Time to attend. Time to listen and learn. Time to process. Time to plan to use that learning. Time and a new era of learning for thousands of educators. The program. https://convention.ncte.org/

Where and how will you recharge? Extend your professional learning? Extend your collegial network? What does your future learning look like?

A summary of previous NCTE posts . . . link (NCTE19 – 3 posts) Learning is social. Learning is “writeable”.


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Professionalism

It’s time for some self-reflection. How am I doing with my #OLW “willing” and other work tasks. As I thought this, I chuckled to myself. “Work, yeah, right. That’s a short list as work has been slow. Almost non-existent slow. ‘Slower than molasses’ would be appropos!”

So many pressures right now. If your anxiety or stress level is already through the roof, please stop reading. Today’s post is not for you!

I’ve seen several tweets lately about “professionals” and “teachers as professionals” and wondered exactly what that meant. Here’s what the dictionary said!


1 : a person who does a job that requires special education or skill. 2 : a person who is paid to participate in a sport or activity. professional. adjective.

But what does that mean? I have a job that requires a special skill. Who says the skill is special? Who says I have the skill? When will I know? And then, what will I really know?

As I quizzed a couple of colleagues our conversation about “professional” really devolved into a discussion of “professionalism. This seemed to make more sense . . . “reliability, discretion, evenhandedness and fair price.” So what did our conversation produce?

More words, sentences and questions.

A jumble of ideas.

Here was the definition of professionalism that we were talking about.


The statusmethodscharacter or standards expected of a professional or of a professional organization, such as reliabilitydiscretionevenhandedness, and fair play. noun

I started a T chart. Professionalism is … Professionalism is not …

But it remained empty.

According to whom?


Social expectations?

Peer groups>

Twitter Know it ALLs?

Twitter Know Nothings?

We were talking in circles.

I called a “Time Out”. We each began to work on our own individual lists. We would reconvene our “group think” after we did the work individually.

My first draft:

Our next step before group discussion: Talk about this with peers and report back . . .

How do you define professionalism? What makes your “is” list? What makes your “is not list”?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Morning Musings

I sip my coffee. Time moving slowly. Coffee. Caffeine. Wake up time.

Leaves twirl, swirling slowly to the ground. Yellow leaves are in the majority. A bright yellow blanket with a few dots of green. In two days the ground has changed color. How did that happen so quickly?

Leaves: quietly spinning, collecting together almost as if magnetized. Some deposited in piles. Some in thin sheets. The covering thickness varies. Not yet enough to jump in.

Do I dare walk through them? Will they crunch and dissolve? Will their shiny brightness become dull and dingy?

I shiver. The cool morning breeze brushes my back as my coffee cup warms my hands.

Too early for so many questions. Time to finish my coffee and make a plan for the day.

But first to identify the leaves. To satisfy just one curiosity.

Catalpa leaves.

Leaves bigger than my hand. Individually pretty. Gracefully landing on all surfaces. Attached to none. Easily shifting. Decorative trees. Not indigenous to Iowa. Link

What trees fill the neighborhood? What trees are routinely trimmed? What trees thrive even as the seasons change and their bare limbs are exposed? Are there more in the neighborhood?

What do you SEE when you take a breath and look quietly today? What are you curious about?

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Transition

Merriam-Webster Link

Transitions abound.

Sunday was Halloween and a night filled with sugared costumed kids out on the town.

Monday was an even higher sugar buzz as kiddos snacked on those Halloween goodies before school.

Tuesday is the beginning of the downside of the sugar mountain.

And the rest of the week … The downward spiral continues.

Come Sunday … a new transition.

A loss of one hour.

Ushering in the dark morning travel

And returning home in the dark.

Fewer hours of daylight that are truly “free” of scheduled work or activities for many.

Morning folks may rejoice as the sunrise seems closer to the start of the day.

Night folks may rejoice as darkness seems to stretch out the nights.

Totally a transition . . . students will be cranky and out of sync.

Changing rhythms.




What transitions are impacting your life? Seasons? Weather temps? Family?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: In Olden Days #TCRWP Saturday Reunion

In the olden days, we were taken to church

And now we peer intently at squares on screens

A first blog post about the 88th . . . Link

Now blogging about the 100th.

Announcements from Lucy Calkins while the pews are filling.

Time ticking down, waiting for attendees to log in.

Rushing from session to session, even sitting on the floors,

Exiting out of a session, clicking on a new link . . .

Packing a lunch so as not to miss a single precious moment

Quickly grabbing a snack and moving to keep the brain engaged.

Planned events with Slicers and friends,

Scheduling solo or partner “virtual watches”

Inspiring Keynotes

Inspiring Keynotes










Thank you,



Mo Willems and a Pigeon

Jason Reynolds and




Community of Learners

Community of Learners









Front row seat

Front row seat









What am I willing to do to increase the momentum? (No “Loss”; No “Acceleration”) Your Turn: What commonalities and differences did you find?

And so the 100th TCRWP Saturday Reunion began . . .


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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Formatting issues again . . .

#SOL21: In Search Of . . .

Hunting for something unique.

Listing. Searching. Scrolling. Searching.

Hmmm. Closer.

But do I really like it well enough that I will still like it six months from now when I return to it?

Scrolling. Staring. Questioning. Scrolling.


Now on to the hard part.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I need three that go together – three.

And then probably four sets of three . . . or more.

I ask for help.

I want assistance.

I want reassurance.

Will I really like these tomorrow? Or will I be replacing them that quickly?

I take a risk.

I choose something I’ve never chosen for myself.


An easy way to add another dimension.

And then the unthinkable.

Although it’s for me, I choose pink.

Why pink?

Because it is new and fresh.

Rethinking past choices.

Revisiting new possibilities.

Opportunities to break away from past choices

To enjoy newfound freedom.

Beginning with blue, green, purple and pink.

‘How do you “choose” new projects? Where does your inspiration come from?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Probability

What does it mean?

100% Probability was the label.



For the next hour?

For the next day?

A quick peek confirms.

100% now . . . for sure!

Driving on the interstate

100% probability that my windshield would fog over with the controls still on AC. Not cool.

100% probability that a semi would pass another below the speed limit.

100% probability that someone would slow down to 20 below the speed limit.

And then another “sporadic shower”


100% continuous!

What else in life is 100% probability?

100%; your fingers will be orange after eating nacho chips.

100%; you will need a napkin for buttery fingers after movie theater popcorn.

100% . . .

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Autumn

What are the signs of Autumn that you watch for?

  • – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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