Author Archive: franmcveigh

#SOL21: Work

‘Thank you, Aunt Fran,” seconds before the door closed.

Tasks finished. No, to SSI. Yes, to being a citizen. What to put for institution? Those were just a few of the questions that arose.

Unfortunately, the resume had to be typed. The “Free” site required $3.00 in order to access the copy that had just been input. Perfect time for learning that promises of “free” aren’t always truthful.

Online job application completed. Resume typed and emailed. Just one more step. Upload the resume to the site and voila. Wait and see . . .

Perhaps a pandemic isn’t the best time to be looking for a job. Perhaps a pandemic is the best time to be looking for a job. As an anticipated high school graduate in May of 2022, life continues on and there is an entire semester of school yet to go before summer.

Application, check.

Resume, check.

Planning for a Sunday job during the school year and perhaps future summer employment. Perhaps working at the grocery store where his cousin worked during the last year. The store where his uncles worked. The store that routinely hires students. A “student friendly” employer. That’s a part of the goal.

Why employment while a student?

You can find some pros and cons here at this link.

I’m willing to bet that there is no one answer that works for all students. A part-time job could broaden a student’s environment, earn some spending money, teach some money management skills, build confidence, take away from screen time, and . . . ??? Perhaps work will interfere with learning at school, but maybe it will cement some connections between school and work, and allow a student to explore a variety of employment options.

Did you work during high school? (During the year or in the summers?) What did you learn from working? How might you practice / model some “decision-making skills?”


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

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#SOL21: #OLW

This year’s pace seemed lethargic. Too many words. Too much time. Too many choices. Inability to make a decision created angst. Worrying. Fretting. Reviewing previous words to ensure duplications did not occur by chance. Acceptable on purpose but not by chance!

A Review of Previous Words:

  • 2014    Transfer
  • 2015    Focus
  • 2016    Joyful
  • 2017    Brave
  • 2018    Curious
  • 2019 Celebrate
  • 2020 Envision

Not sure about the goal or purpose of #OLW? Here’s a video to check out more information about #OneLittleWord. If you know/understand the basic premise, keep reading or you can enter #OLW in the search box to see other blog posts I have written about #OLW since 2014.

This in my Twitter feed meant a lot this week as I was narrowing down my words.

My sister already tweeted out her #OLW for this year. And I love that she said it’s “part compass, part motivator, and part mirror.”

Nouns. Verbs. Adjectives. Words that can be more than one part of speech. Does it matter? Trying out the word. Does it fit? How well does it fit?

A final check of quotes and this one sealed my word.

“When you are willing, you don’t need to confront anything. It’s you that puts the resistance and unwillingness there. Put willingness there and resistance melts away.”

― Meir Ezra

So for this year . . .

I anticipate this will be a phrase that will include many actions . . .

Willing to . . .

Willing to listen

Willing to think

Willing to learn

Willing to take time

Willing to make time

Willing to take action


What is your #OLW?

What are you willing to set as your 2021 goal(s}?


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

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#SOL20 Finale

Despite the shimmering curtain of snow, the prediction of inches, possible ice for a topping, it’s hard to let go of the last few days of 2020.  There was happiness and joy in 2020 even though the year did not resemble any other year in my life.

I’ve been thinking about science.

systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation ( link)

Even more surprising were synonyms for science:  art, technique, method, discipline.

One area of observation for over five years has been my study of grandchildren and it continues to amaze me on a regular basis.  The joy. The excitement. The fun. The surprises.  

Once upon a time . . .

When I was young, building toys were Lincoln Logs or  Tinker Toys.  I vaguely remember a wagon with alphabet blocks that also could have been used for building stacks. But inside toys seemed limited unless other toys were repurposed.

But what if toys had NOT evolved?

How would we build a triceratops like the one in the picture?  How would we form the base? Outline the body parts? And how would they stick together?

Magnetic blocks come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are great fun to explore what makes them stick together, or not!  Often they are tricky and require more than one person when building elaborate structures. Fun. Choice. Variety of sizes. Variety of shapes. Variety of colors.

Has the science of building toys changed?

A Tradition:  Gingerbread Houses

Where did gingerbread come from?  When did gingerbread houses appear in history?  Where?  Why?  When, where and why did they appear in your family history?  How has history impacted your view of gingerbread houses?

PBS provides a look at centuries of history here. And more practically, PBS shows you how to build a “gingerbread house” out of graham crackers here.

Traditional or Modern Gingerbread House?

Do you bake your own? Use graham crackers? Use pop tarts?  Does the “house material” matter if the goal is to BUILD the house?  Do you actually eat the house?  Or does it become a centerpiece?

Here’s a Mario Brothers castle created from a kit. Does it match your picture of a gingerbread house?  Why or why not? 

Has the “science of gingerbread houses” changed?

I love to find books, articles, blogs and research that I agree with or that support my own beliefs and reaffirms what I value in education. I’ve written about some of those in blog posts However, I’m super skeptical when anyone claims to have the ONE and only one best way to do anything. Those quick, easy solutions may sound wonderful but often are rushed, incomplete and based on assumptions that need further study. Here are two from this week.

“The Critical Story of the “Science of Reading” and Why Its Narrow Plotline Is Putting Our Children and Schools at Risk” link by Dorothy Suskind

So many important points in each of those four parts. Always more than one side to any story.

#DisruptTexts attack ( )

Asks for a systematic, thoughtful review of which resources are and are not included in classrooms. Has never banned books. Has never advocated banning books.

Is it okay for students to still be reading the same “required texts” that we had to read – 40 to 50 years ago? Who should decide what books students read? How much input should students have?

When does SCIENCE truly inform instruction? (observation and experimentation)


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. See you in 2021. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL20: Envision #OLW

There was no way to predict 2020.

The year started with Envision – my #OneLittleWord.

Some may say the world quickly went downhill. As the pandemic became evident, a balance in life became a necessity. Because “envision” was my focus, I also discovered that envision didn’t mean more, more, and MORE. Instead, envision became a balance. A balance in family and how I spent my days. A balance in work as time slowed. And a balance in leisure time as I re-engaged in sewing and began quilting. 2020 did not play out as I envisioned, but in some aspects it was even better because envision was enough!

This quote is totally appropriate!

2020 has not been without some blessings. Of course, it could have been an easier year! But BLESSED is true. And I am so BLESSED!

Have you revisited your #OLW? How did it serve you in 2020? Have you found your word for 2021?


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

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#SOL20: Savor

This holiday season . . .

Depressing? Joyful?

Disappointing? Create new traditions?

Dismal? Exciting?

My #OLW for the holiday season is . . .

Instead of bemoaning the missed Ruth family dinner and the contacts with 150+ Baby Ruths, I will savor the time spent writing and posting a note about 2020 on the family site and then joining in the ZOOM!

Instead of stuffing myself with food at the Ruth family dinner, I will savor a leisurely and healthy lunch with a smaller family group.

Instead of rushing from one event to another, I will savor the time between Zooms and add in texts and chats that will extend that sense of community that we have deepened this year.

Instead of “buying, buying, buying”, I will savor the joy and the time well spent on the handcrafted creations that I designed specifically for each of the recipients.

Many emotions are already present as December winds down but I will savor the love and joy of connecting with living friends and relatives near and far as we also begin to plan to meet up in late 2021 and 2022.

2020 will not end the way I would prefer. However, I will choose to SAVOR life and enjoy the interactions that are possible.

What will you choose to celebrate and savor this holiday season? What word or phrase will help you navigate the holidays?


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

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#SOL20: Ideas


my brain feels empty

What should I write about?  What could I write about?  So close to the holidays. Too soon to reveal secrets. So many tasks yet to do. And yet my brain is frozen. No idea in mind.

I search previous blog posts for “ideas” and these two pop up. The first is about getting “unstuck” while the second focuses on “process”.



Wisdom from Matt de la Pena and the #TCRWP Supper Club.


A springboard for ideas?

The use of a model.

Part of my Christmas card choice for this year is displayed below. So many connections for both a springboard for ideas and the use of a model. I didn’t look at the price, but I did review the quantity before making my purchase. Time would not allow a second purchase. Look at the image and consider how you might use it for writing.

A springboard for ideas? An _______ Christmas. A ________ (holiday). Describe your family traditions in this format. Write it individually. Compare with another family member or friend. Revise. Singly or together.

The use of a model. A model for the pictures. A model for the writing. A model to use as one holds up and compares ideas.

Cut apart the ideas and the words. Match them. Rearrange them. Think of personal connections to the items listed. What has been left out? What would you add? What would you delete? Which ones do you really want to hear over and over so they will be in the first half? Which ones stand on their own merit with fewer repetitions.

And then . . .

What topics can you insert?

The 10 Days Before a Zoom Call? The Countdown to the Next Holiday? The Items in a Favorite Holiday Recipe? The Items on Your Tree? Descriptions of Family Member? Your 2020 Wish List?

Here’s the beginning of a draft . . .

A Family Christmas

A family from a farm

Two brothers working

Three brave daughters

Four generations living

Five . . .

Six Lefties Writing

. . .

What writing ideas will you explore? How will you share their sources? How will you continue to write your own stories?


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

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#SOL20: Procrastination

I should be . . .

Up and about writing early.

But instead I open a book and

Read the pages eagerly.

I should be . . .

Cleaning up files for taxes

Because it is December

and this last month of the year crashes.

I should be . . .

Counting out and wrapping gifts

But I just poured another cup of coffee

And I need to go back to my book before the day shifts.

I should be . . .

Sewing those final items so few

But I want to go for another walk

Just to enjoy the sky so blue.

December is just beginning

But my shopping is all done.

Days get shorter

And so does the allotment of fun!

What’s on your agenda? What SHOULD you be doing? What are you doing instead? How do you balance your needs, your wants and your own self care?

  • ____________________________________________________________________ 

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

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#SOL20: Mistakes

“Not all Mistakes are Equal.”

Cruz, M. Colleen. (2020). Risk.Fail.Rise. A Teacher’s Guide to Learning from Mistakes. Heineman, p. 2.

While baking or cooking, I sometimes make mistakes. I’m missing an ingredient, so I decide on a substitution that is “close” but not exactly what I need. Sometimes it works; sometimes it does not. If it works and I like it, I may repeat the now revised “recipe.” Other times, I may decide not to repeat it because it’s just not as I imagined or expected.



Recent quilting mistakes:

  1. Sewing a right side of fabric to a wrong side of a second fabric. Solution: Rip out and sew again.

2. A loopy bottom thread that does not catch and secure. Solution: Rethread the sewing machine, rip out the stitching, and sew again.

3. A seam frays and becomes loose when turned inside out. Solution 1: Tear out one inch, tuck inside and topstitch. Solution 2: Tear out and restitch the entire seam to reduce pressure and likelihood of “refraying.” Solution 3: Pay more careful attention to seam width on corners and thick seams on next item.

Hmmm. Multiple steps to solutions. More than one solution depending on the mistake. It’s complicated!

Risk-taking is an issue. It’s often “easier” to ignore or downplay our mistakes as adults. But what if we instead took the opportunity to explore the growth possibilities as we model our own responses to mistakes for our students and family members. This introspection is a result of the brilliance of Colleen Cruz’s research, examples and tools in this amazing book.

One quick example from the first line of the chart in Fig. 1-3 “Shift from Blame to Action” is included here.

Two possible solutions for you to consider.

This is a book for reflection. This is a book that has the possibility of moving you from reflection to action. And with a book study, you just may promote a culture of learning . . . “learning from mistakes.”

What is a mistake that you have made recently? What did you learn from the mistake?


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

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#SOL20: Stoicism

Suffer in silence?

Vivid recollections speed by at lightning speed. Accurate? Probably not. Colored by my perception? Absolutely. An entire year of silence. An entire year of disappointment. An entire year without encouragement. I was afraid to voice my thoughts. Was it fear that “I could make it worse”? Family event after event: not a word. Ignored. Existing in a dessert. Devastated. Lost. How to “fix’ it? I thought suffering in silence was the route. Being stoic. “Sucking it up.” “If you can’t say something nice…” “Take your punishment.” “Time heals all wounds.” So many thoughts swirling. And of course, “it must be my fault.” No words to break the impasse. Life. Time. To confront or not? To break the role to which I had been relegated? To find a voice . . . any voice? Did I deserve the silence as a punishment? A year of silence as a consequence of a divorce. Over three decades later and I’m still wondering if there would have been a different way to end that impasse. What could I have said or done differently? Was the biggest problem lack of communication? Failed expectations? How do we resolve the GAP between our personal perspective and those around us? What if?
Fate leads the willing, and drags along the reluctant. – Seneca, Letters from a Stoic Source Link
The four virtues of stoicism are: courage, temperance, justice, and wisdom. The courage to know when to speak and when not to speak. The wisdom to find the words to bridge the gap. The quest for justice and equity. And in all things temperance – self-control. Not emotion-less but emotion-filled. A dose of stoicism will serve our future leaders. This picture alone marks change.

How can stoicism inform the quality of your life?

Should the virtues of stoicism become your guiding principles?

____________________________________________________________________ Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.
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#SOL20: Serenity

A monumental day

Not everyone will be happy

So today’s thoughts . . .

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

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