#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: Harvest

In cycles of life. it is one of several steps.

  • preparation of soil,
  • sowing,
  • adding manure and fertilizers,
  • irrigation,
  • harvesting and
  • storage.

How do you know it is time?

With soybeans, it’s obvious as a field of green

Becomes a mixture of green and yellow.

Over time the colors fade to brown

As the plants dry out.

Will it rain on the harvest?

What do you know about soybean production?

And within the US, what does it look like?

How many acres are involved in the production of soybeans? Is that up or down for 2020?

Soybeans: for animal and human consumption . . . A food source to feed the hungry around the world . . .

How can we use inquiry to consider new solutions for old problems?


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

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Poetry Revisited

Who knew? Our 9th grade class published a student poetry anthology with a front cover, back cover and pages of ditto-copied poetry fading in between.

On page 5 my poem sits. My inked signature, scrawled across the words, lines barely discernible, requires repetition to be read with any accuracy, and even then does it make as much sense as when it was written. What’s my take on poetry? Remember these models: I Hate Poetry. I Love Poetry. (LINK)

To Wear or Not to Wear

(Formatted . . . )

  • – – – – – – – – – –

I do remember using this format in a high school writing class to pen the most eloquent . . .

To Write or Not to Write

I was a firm believer in imitation.

Poetry: I can take it or leave it (Link)

What’s your take on poetry?


A frill?

A Luxury?



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Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Writing Relics

Covered in dust,

filled with manila envelopes

Folders of stapled work

Some identified by grade level

Some not.

Size 11 boot box.

Not mine.

But my name in cursive on the top of the box.

With a listing of some of the contents.

A science project.

An A+.

No idea of the criteria.

No idea of the grade level.

20 types of leaves.

All identified.

Was it a family project?

Those 20 trees were not all on our property.


A description

Saran Wrap and Tape

Holding the leaves for decades

And then some art work.

Screen print

Of the shape of the leaf.




Integrating writing into content areas,

Circa 1960s.

What do your examples of writing show as far as a pedagogical / curricular influence? What evidence guides your thinking?


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

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Good Enough?

I’ve heard this phrase for years, decades even.

But I’ve been wondering lately what a person is to do if the quality of the lemonade is dubious, not up to expectations, or perhaps not even fit for consumption.

Do we politely sip it anyway?

Do we question the source to attempt to determine why the quality seems to have slipped?

Do we just say, “Oh, it’s for a good cause. Suck it up! It’s good enough!”

Colleen Cruz offers us much wisdom in her book, Risk. Fail. Rise.

What are mistakes? Are they “missed takes”?

During our #G2Great chat in February of 2021, Colleen defined mistakes for us.

Surprise! We thought it was going to go one way. But it went another!

And I was ready to talk about tons of mistakes.

Two real-life examples

Gravy too thin? A secret ingredient for quick thickening might be two tablespoons of instant mashed potatoes.

In quilting: A narrow seam might “fix” a seam that is pulled too tightly.

But the subtitle of Colleen’s book is:
“A Teacher’s Guide to Learning from Mistakes”

Recounting mistakes is not the end goal. My list could probably be a mile or two long.

Learning from Mistakes.

Where does the learning come from?

I liked the element that Jill added:

The learning begins with reflection and knowing a bit more about the types of mistakes that occur.

Getting beyond mistakes are “good” or “bad” takes some work or study. Not all mistakes are equal. Four kinds of mistakes include: stretch mistakes, aha moment mistakes, sloppy mistakes, and high-stakes mistakes.

McVeigh, https://literacylenses.com/2021/02/risk-fail-rise-a-teachers-guide-to-learning-from-mistakes/

The life mistakes with gravy and quilting were/are not earth shattering. Annoying? Yes. Easily rectified? Yes.

But they do require an awareness of the end product. A road map of our destination. An expectation or approximation of that end goal/ success criteria!

Who decides what is good enough? What if we set the bar too low> What if “any lemonade” becomes our goal and the quality drops off? Will we continue to make lemonade? Are we willing to adjust/adapt to maintain a certain criteria of excellence? Who determines the criteria?

Do give yourself grace.

It’s going to be another wild year.

But continue to have high expectations. Your life will be richer for all that you maintain high expectations. It will be up to you to determine where and how many mistakes you want to share. (Many folks won’t notice them. Others will notice and name many.)

The key is being willing (#OLW) to reflect on the “fails” in order to learn and grow your own list of accomplishments.

You get to set the criteria! Go for the Olympic Gold! Set some worthy characteristics!

Be flexible. Grow and learn. Don’t settle for making lemonade. Make the best lemonade possible!

When is “Good Enough” really Good Enough?


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

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Point of View

About five months ago, we “seemed” more optimistic. Some pandemic numbers were headed in the right direction. There were more mandates and then evil seemed to form this schism wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Black or white

Empty or full

Nothing seemed quite so simple.

I blogged about point of view here.

As school begins/continues/or is perhaps even delayed . . .

here’s some food for thought.

Give yourself grace. Pause. Think. Take a deep breath. Listen to understand.

Is it really this simple?

It’s not easy. There are multiple “sides/views” of every interaction.

Solutions require us to look each other in the eye.

We must let go of the old and ineffective beliefs and practices.

We cannot grab onto the “new and shiny” promise dangled in front of us.

We must center students and their identities in all that we plan and do.

We cannot let fear keep us from embracing the work needed for our students to flourish.

We must stand together in unity.

We cannot stand by when loud voices take over the bully pulpit.

What can you personally do? What are you WILLING to do?


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

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Slicing Inspiration

Where do ideas come from?

It depends.

Do I already have an idea in my mind? Do I like that idea? Or is it my “I’ll settle for that idea if a burst of inspiration does not hit me before it’s time to push the publish button.

Today felt different.

I didn’t have an idea in mind. (I had many ideas circulating but no ONE idea.) I didn’t have a draft written before the “call to slicers” was posted. So the inspiration came from sleeping on/with this idea on my mind.

Writing . . .

Stepping back




And therefore, being most present.

Examples from this summer include these two volunteers in my sister’s garden. . .


Silently growing

And then blooming


Claiming space

Stretching, growing

Volunteering to create


In unexpected spaces.

Today a petunia and a sunflower are the same.


When have you been most present? How do you KNOW? What is your plan to be MORE present?


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

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Gratitude

Thank you, teachers.

Thank you for your passion.

Thank you for your curiosity.

Thank you for your joy.

Thank you for your willingness to stretch and grow.

This quote is my current favorite. So many folks think it. It’s officially in the world.

All readers deserve instruction from a skilled teacher but this book is specific based on the needs of emergent readers. They need MORE connections and practices across the day and fewer 10 or 15 minutes of isolated, segmented drudgery. Teachers uplifting JOY as they work to provide the best learning environments possible. That’s the key to success,

Thank you, Carolyn and Susan! And Stenhouse.

Want to know more?

#G2Great chat archive Link

Literacy Lenses blog post by Dr. Mary Howard Link

“intentional” . . . current favorite word!

What are you thanking teachers for as they prepare to enter the third year of schooling disrupted with stress over COVID surges? What are your reading professionally? Where do you find your JOY?


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

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Internet



Sixty minutes.

Sixty minutes of turning off and on. Unplugging. Timing for at least two minutes. Turning back on. Reconnecting. Next device up.

No time for foolishness.

Long list to accomplish.

Three devices later, I’m ready to toss all three devices.


I begin this post on my phone. The WordPress app seems to work. I push publish. It spins.

I gently close the lid to my chromebook. I power my ipad mini off. I restart my phone.

I find a stack of post its and begin a manual list.

What do you do when technology fails? How do you work through the frustration with tech and the loss of time?


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

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Books Make Me

On Thursday, July 22nd, Penny Kittle interviewed Kwame Alexander for BookLove. It was a feast of:



mutual admiration with

Penny reading poetry and

Kwame reading poetry.


One of the ideas shared was the community poems that Kwame has written/curated recently. You can hear “This is Our Dream” at this NPR link.

We were challenged to write our own lines to a prompt proposed by Ann Marie Stephens . . .

“Books Make Me”

Books make me

Soar high above the clouds

Drifting along, tugged by the wind, escaping gravity.

Books make me

Crawl into the shoes

And psyches of characters as they live in their stories.

Books make me

Respond. I might:

Cry, Scream, Laugh, Pound, Question, Wonder and Think.

Books make me

Rush to collect those “just published” ones

That entice me with the fresh ink and new learning!

Books make me

Yearn for conversations

With authors, readers, and writers to pick up on nuances contained.

Books make me reread

Slowing down

Savoring the ideas, thoughts, and words of the author, both spoken and unspoken.

Books make me curl up on rainy days

To maximize every second

Of freedom to read and relax with my choice of text.

Books make me travel to places

Near and far

In my imagination and other times and places.

Books make me swoon

A well-written phrase

A well-developed character or even an old friend who is captivating.

Books make me aware

Of just how much I don’t know

And encourage me to dig in and satisfy my curiosity.

But most of all,

Books make me . . . me!

What line(s) would you add? How could you use this format? What will your prompt look like?


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

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“Poetry is literature’s multivitamin . . . ” https://www.npr.org/2021/07/26/1020612153/joy-why-traffic-on-poetry-websites-has-increased-during-the-pandemic

#SOL21: Milestones

Which one?

85158? The conundrum of a palindrome as the numbers keep adding up and up.

921 E. 2nd ? Home away from home. A landing spot.

1835 Orange Avenue

This post will be my 900th post. Never did I ever imagine that I would write 900 posts. Never did I imagine these posts would continue to be written on a weekly (or more) basis. More on this number next week!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

How did numbers impact my days?

A week’s worth of driving. Sorting, labeling, sifting through artifacts, dreams and days gone by. Rooms cleared. Boxes packed out. And still more rooms. Ad infinitum.

Numbers where I stayed. Numbers where I worked. Numbers while I drove. Numbers pounding away every day.

Until finally, an end in sight.

Binary choices?

  • Done? Not done? Where was “good enough”?
  • Making decisions. Not making decisions. Extremes in thoughts and actions.
  • Asking for advice. Some replies. Many texts and messages ignored.

Goal: Task completion

Closing the door on the empty family house of fifty years. Holding tight to memories. Letting go of stuff.

What “stuff” can you let go of? What memories shall you hold instead? How do we continue to move forward in the best possible ways? Beginnings? Endings? Cycles continue.


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

Check out the writers and readers here.

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