Author Archive: franmcveigh

#SOL20: Fruit or Vegetable


A row of plants. Alternating metal cages. Sprawling green masses of leaves, stems and stalks interspersed with red. Another row. Another row. As far as the eye could see. More than 100 plants in all.

Fruit? Vegetable?

Easily canned.

Lifeblood as juice, sauce, salsa or sliced fresh from the garden.

I remember the summer that the “crop” ripened just as school opened. Day job school.

Night job. Creating recipes. No internet searching. Trial and error. Daily collecting and sorting. Ripe? Ready? Final product?

And then the Process. Remove peels by scalding. Cook. Add ingredients. Hot water processing in the galvanized blue canner with a rack to secure the jars. Steam filling the kitchen. Jars lined up on the canner. The popping as the lids sealed.

Gifts from the garden: pasta sauce, salsa and more.

Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable?

An answer from botanists . . .

New learning?

Anything that is a root, stem or leaf of a plant qualifies as a vegetable.

Tomatoes . . .

Does it matter whether they are fruits or vegetables? How specific do you need to be?

The best tomatoes (“tomahtoes” or“tomaytoes”) are the ones grown in your garden!

Growing advice? Link

Jars to wash. Tomatoes to process.Time to work! Off I go!




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

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Today’s bounty: 19 pints and 3 quarts of medium salsa

#TCRWP 2020 August Writing Institute


We began with Lucy Calkin’s, “We come from . . .” but it wasn’t the countries and states typically heard in Riverside Church. It was about the difficulties and the joys from the past year. It’s easy to focus on March to the end as we prepare for the 2020-21 school year, but let us not forget that August to March was ours. Ours to teach. Ours to plan. Ours to build community. Ours for face to face instruction. And ours to celebrate.

We ended with a celebration. Music greeted us as we entered. These brave authors read their work. They read from their boxes . . . not from the stage in Cowin Auditorium.

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And then Hareem Atif Khan had the closing. So many tears as she shared stories from several stages in her life.

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To bookend the you come from beginning, Hareem said, “You go to your communities, schools, classrooms, children, children whose voices need amplifying. Let’s leave vowing to be the teachers that this world needs.”

I wrote about this summer’s reading virtual institute here. I still missed some of the same things this week during the writing week.  I wanted to sit and chat with my small groups F2F. I wanted the fun of exploring new restaurants and the closing book sales at Bank Street Book. I wanted at least one Broadway show. Not in 2020.

My Writing about Reading from notebook to literary essay daily sessions with Katy Wischow who was the Institute guide for the week, announcing all the keynotes, was beyond my expectations. And our sessions with Alicia Luick . . . ended with singing.  More about both of those later.

My Tips for a 30+ hour long Virtual Institute

  1. Study the Trail Guide and organize your days.
  2. Figure out a format to organize your links.  Quick access is the key.  This simple table works for my links page.    Screenshot 2020-08-08 at 12.18.39 PM
  3. Consider how you like to organize your notes. Organization matters. How will you access the information? Do you like every session on a single page? Do you like all sessions together by the day?  Or together by the session so all five days of Writing about Reading are together?  WHY?  Set up at least your Monday, Day 1. The 10 minutes between sessions goes so quickly!
  4. Plan your backup for device failure. What is your plan if your device goes wonky during Zoom streaming?
  5. Plan your backup for WiFi failure. What is your plan if WiFi decides to take a break?
  6. Headphones and mic are not really optional if there are other beings in your house. Seriously, conversations are fun and funny with other 2 legged and 4 legged critters  interrupting and dark screens and mics off work, but sometimes your patience gives out first!
  7. Break out rooms – If you have used them, awesome. What did you like?  What did not work so smoothly?  If there was a slide with directions, I took a quick pic on my phone so I would have it. (Borrowing from my friend Lynn, “I am old and my brain leaks.”)  Jot a note. Think about how you focus on remembering and doing the task in small groups.  (Ignore if you are not obsessive about remembering the task; someone in your group will capture it for everyone else!)
  8. Plan to participate as fully as possible. I personally felt the learning was MORE intense than in an “in-person” institute, and I have always felt those were like drinking from a fire hydrant. I didn’t have a plan for evening “think” and “work” sessions.  That work space instead of canning 14 pints of salsa might have helped me to feel less stressed.
  9. Make plans to connect with folks beyond the institute. Your small group? A partner?
  10. Plan to learn AND have FUN! It’s a transformative week! You will be amazed at the tech tips and tools that you use and learn as well!

What tips would you add?

 

 

 

#SOL20: Let It Go!


 

Rumors abound.

Topics include:

Elections

Rules

Vaccines

Bail outs

Finger pointing

Blame

To Keep Your Sanity when all about you seems beyond the pale:

  1. Consider the source:  Is it reliable? Trustworthy? Truthful?
  2. Consider the proximity:  Does it impact you?
  3. Consider the emotional load:  Is the exploration going to cause stress and possible harm?
  4. Consider the immediacy:  Can I wait until a pattern emerges?

Set your own threshold.  How many “nos” do you need for the questions above in order to step away and

. . . LET IT GO!

What are your criteria for letting it go?





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

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#SOL20: Harvest Celebrations


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Harvest:  what do you celebrate?

  • Is it the season?
  • The produce?
  • The process?
  • The product?

What does harvest mean to you?

Sit with your definition for a minute.  Pause.  Reflect.

Harvest: (n.)

the process or period of gathering in crops.
“helping with the harvest”   (Oxford Dictionary)
My summer sewing harvest the last four months has been bountiful:
A dinosaur glow in the dark quilt
6 “Bunny” wall hangings
6 soup bowl cozies
4 Fourth of July table runners
An assist with a quilt for a graduate
2 sets of pajamas
20 different items.
2 for me.
Is it the envisioning?
Is it the design?
Is it the construction?
Is it the gift giving?
Today’s harvest
A BLT,
corn on the cob,
pickled beets,
bread and butter pickles.
No waiting.
Ready to eat
Fresh from the garden
And from the Farmer’s Market!
Not a “FALL” harvest;
A JULY harvest! 
A concrete harvest.
A purposeful harvest.

But is there more?

Also today . .  .
I noticed . . .
The lowering of the TBR stack
The conversations about blog posts
The list of books read
The list of blogs written
My reading notebook
My writing notebook
   . . . And the ideas swirling in my head!
A plethora of reading and writing accomplished . . .
As well as a list yet to come.

What does your harvest look like? 

What will you celebrate? 

How and when will you celebrate?




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

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#SOL20: Riddles


Riddles abound.

Some in stealth.

Some in plain sight.

Ready to pounce

Perhaps high

Perhaps low.

In math.

In science.

In literacy.

Everywhere!!!

What are the characteristics of a riddle? Link

Why might one work with riddles?  What value is there in working with riddles?

Language practice. Practice writing a description. Practice going from a very broad description to a more narrow, focused description. , Practice revealing an item one characteristic at a time. Practice determining the most defining feature of any object.  To add a bit of fun, joy, levity to the day. To connect with an interest or a passion.

Try this one  . . .

I hold valuables.

In the beginning I was made of leather.

I may be a decoration.

I may be useful.

I have one hole.

When I have two holes, I am useless.

I’m a visible container.

Often empty.

Often waiting.

Under-utilized,

Under appreciated.

I’m a small bag

Attached to an article of clothing.

What am I?

When did you know the answer?   

How many “clues” did it take?

Who does the thinking work when solving or writing riddles?




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

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Answer:

You may see the answer more commonly as this:

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But I created this:

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Which sent me on a quest to learn more about . . .

a pocket. (The answer to the riddle above.)

#SOL20: Tempo


Music Theory. Ear Training.  As a band member I was so interested in processes. Real world action? Study music. Learn the basic language. 64 scales later. Each labeled. Technical adequacy?  Fun? Boring? What has “stuck” decades later?

The vocabulary . . .

The choices . . .

The freedom . . .

Allegro

Adagio

To Do List

Daily reading and writing

Zoom meetings

Savoring Slice of Life posts

Ten minute calendar warning

Clocks with the dreaded “PF”

Deadlines

A leisurely walk

Rereading text before a chat

Browsing for an entertaining read

Music surrounding

Background noise . . . white noise

Savoring morning coffee

Burning my tongue while gulping “too hot” coffee

What is your tempo?

Allegro?

Screenshot 2020-07-14 at 7.01.05 AM

Adagio?

Screenshot 2020-07-14 at 7.01.40 AM

When does it vary?  

What impacts your tempo? 

What connections can you make to your life?




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

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#SOL20: Keynote speeches


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Inspirational?

Motivational?

Aspirational?

What are some characteristics that you expect from a keynote speech?

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of seeing/hearing five different keynotes as a part of the TCRWP June 2020 Reading Institute. Each had its own distinct features due to the knowledge base and presentation styles of Lucy Calkins, Katy Wischow, Sonja Cherry-Paul, Michael Rae-Grant and Sarah Weeks as you can see in the keynote titles below.

Titles:

  • An Opening
  • You Never Read Alone: Community, Identity, and The Power of Talk
  • Radical Teaching: Reading Workshop as a Powerful Space for Transformation and Liberation
  • I Know, Therefore I Am: Why Nonfiction Reading Is About So Much More Than Extracting Information from Texts
  • A Few Choice Words

Some common themes I found:  Communities of learners and stories draw us together in these turbulent times.  The texts of our lives ARE our lives:  Are we living them? We are the sum of our experiences so we need to make sure they reflect our lives. If not you, then who?  Readers are never alone!

But the surprising commonality for the five keynotes was the deep emotional connections:  the tears, the laughter, and the joy of learning in a community. And yes, even through Zoom/electronic devices, the stories were that powerful.

If you would like to learn more about “keynotes” here is a great source from the business world.  Link  Tips 1, 3, 7, and 10 are my favorites. Especially 10. Always 10.

What will be your keynote for the 2020 school year?

How will you focus on priorities? 

What are your expectations from a keynote?




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

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#TCRWP Reading Institute 2020


I miss:

  • the participants
  • the staff developers
  • Riverside Church
  • Horace Mann
  • the up close and personal feel of the FRONT row of the auditorium
  • the subway
  • being asked for directions on the subway
  • living out of “carry on”
  • coffee meet ups
  • packing my lunch
  • dining out on the NYC cuisine
  • the bookstores
  • the impossible and usually untimely return trip home (AKA stranded in NYC on the 4th of July)
  • the conversations as we walk past our location, to the wrong Starbucks, or just wandering
  • meeting up with #TWT friends
  • meeting up with #Voxer cousins
  • squeezing in a #G2Great chat (and what time zone am I really in?)
  • meeting up with #CuriosityCrew
  • and leaving the world behind for that short interlude . . . no TV, few phone calls, few emails.

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Thanks to the pandemic, it’s truly a Brave, New World.

Conversation and chatter seems non-stop . . . even if it is typed into a box! Or in a break out room!

It’s Wednesday night. Past the mid-point. My brain is full.  It’s leaking. Time to let something out!

My choice session today was all that I envisioned. (Envision- my #OLW)

And then some.

Grand slam?

Winning game of the World Series?

Kentucky Derby winner?

Gold Medal at the Olympics?

30 minutes of pure bliss.

Head nodding,

Amen-shouting,

Fist-pumping,

Zoom waving,

YES!  YES!  YES!  YES!  YES!  YES!

Title:  The Six Most Important  Things You Can Do with Your Students Who are Reading Below Grade Level Benchmarks

Find some paper or point to your fingers.

What are your 6 Most Important Things?

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6

You don’t have to fuss over the order.  Look at them.  Are those the six most important things you believe in?

Are you sure? 

Are you really sure?

I had a difficult time choosing this session. There were three choice sessions that I needed to attend according to the titles.  This session was not #1. However, I made a guesstimate on the “Six Most Important Things” and I wanted to know if I was right. So I chose this session.

Here were my six:

Know your students / Relationship

Feedback, Self-assessment & Goal-setting

Talk about reading / Rehearse

Stuff to read

Reading, Reading, Reading every day

Was I close?

No bets.

No money.

30 minutes invested in checking my understanding.

Thoughts?




Here were Hannah’s Six Most Important Things.

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One small corner of my brain organized and ready for tomorrow’s learning.

So by tomorrow night I can be back at one of these stages . . .

Screenshot 2019-09-29 at 8.07.11 PMScreenshot 2019-06-17 at 6.04.46 PM      Screenshot 2020-07-01 at 9.36.24 PM

Summertime,

Summertime,

Sum, sum, sum, summertime Learning . . .

It’s the best!

 

 

 

 

 

#SOL20: Patriotism


Basic Theme:  Red, White and Blue

Secondary Theme:  Stars

Thirty six squares beginning at 2.5 inches each form the basis.  Thirty six different designs with and without stars as well as a sashing of white on white stars and even starts stitched as a part of the quilting. Thousands of stars.

More importantly, my first patchwork design. Hours selecting. Hours laying out. Hours sewing and then the picture in my head did not match the final design. And then rinse and repeat times three.

A noble goal. A gift times three. Completed. Mailed. Ready for the holiday.  The red, white and blue of liberation.

Table runner – left half

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Table runner – right half

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Which was emphasized:  process or product?

Had you guessed from this post? Link     

How was this process like instruction?  Education?

How will you share your patriotism on July 4th?




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

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#SOL20: #BookLove


 

Are you ready?

What is one of the best books in the world?  What is a book that will surprise you with each reread?  What book will nurture your soul?  What book will allow you to write beside the poems and unwrap your own stories . . . your own life?

I believe the answer is found in this book that is the initial book for elementary teachers participating in the Summer Book Love Book Club!

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Franki Sibberson wrote about this book by Irene Latham and illustrated by Charles Waters in her blog post here. As I read Franki’s post, I was nodding my head to every statement. And like Franki said, this week’s discussion in Book Love Foundation’s Summer Book Club is already underway. (Seriously, go read what Franki said!)

You could still see these amazing speakers.

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And interact with the almost 1,000 folks in the Book Club.

You might write or see examples . . .

Like  my first draft poem for the beginning of #BookLove.

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Week 1 has begun.

We wrote poetry Monday.

#BookLove learning has begun.

What is on your learning agenda? 

What is your favorite poetry book? 

Is there a book club in your summer plans?




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

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Addendum:  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater Resources  bit.ly/2YU6Ifi

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