Author Archive: franmcveigh

#SOL20: What If?

What If?

What does it look like if/when students resume classes in school buildings?

China Link

Denmark Link

Maybe this?

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Or this?

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Or this?

What will school look like?

What will students look like?

How will everyone be safe? secure? and ready to learn?

Who makes those determinations?

From Sarah Gross and a superintendent in New Jersey: Link 91 questions.

What If?

It’s hard to plan for the future

So many uncertainties

So many possibilities

So many paths

Too early to choose

So many uncertainties.



Dream of “best case” solutions.

What is your plan?

What will you do in the interim while waiting for decisions?

What questions are swirling in your brain?

What if students, communities, and school staff planned collaboratively?

What do you envision?

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

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#SOL20: Perspective



Which will prevail?

After seven years of blogging every Tuesday, I totally forgot this was Tuesday. After at least 350 Tuesday posts, I simply forgot.

What was the cause?

Pandemic brain?

Loss of time?

Loss of schedule?

In part, it was a combination but mostly it was eager anticipation. Today’s the day.

Goodbye patio door. Hello, new exterior door.

From this to this . . . today. The first door is out. Second door is in progress.

A midpoint?


Home improvement?

Which perspective?

The patio door had stopped working. Years of being slammed shut. In and out. IN and OUT! Not helpful to have a method of egress that was basically unusable.


Noise. Screeching of nails and screws being removed.

A variety of tools.

Early arrival.

Job underway.

Cannot wait to see the finished product . . . product over noisy progress.

Today I choose product.

Which perspective?

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Half Empty?

Half Full?

Which do you typically choose? When is one prioritized over another? What pattern do you follow?

Considering schools and re-opening next year . . .

So many perspectives

Not simply black and white

Student safety? Student learning?

Transportation safety? Health and welfare of all?

School staff safety? Parental and community needs?

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

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Postscript . . .

Product matters!!!

Everything completely finished or vinyl clad. No upkeep!

#SOL20: A Milestone





Revise the Plan


Check the Plan




Sound familiar?

It was birthday time on Sunday. Back on Mothers’ Day when the story began. The big 5. And the big reveal.

In the beginning . . .

It began with a panel. Then a bigger envisionment and new learning.

Several artists represented . . .

Envisioning a goal, gathering resources, making a plan, checking in along the way and my grandson now has a glow in the dark dinosaur quilt.

In the midst of the world chaos I was able to learn a new skill and create some beauty.

What have you created?

What will you create?

What are you learning?

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

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Previous posts about the birthday quilt are here, here, here and here.

#SOL20: Appreciation

Ahh. Another cup.

Guessed it. The cup arrived in campus mail with a note attached. “In grateful appreciation . . .”


Be. Grateful.

Say. Thank You. And. Let. It. Go

Why didn’t it feel like “appreciation”?

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Recognition alone is a great beginning.

Recognition alone does NOT always feel like appreciation.

What was missing?

  • The Enjoyment
  • The Valuing
  • The Respect
  • The Cherishing
  • The Treasuring
  • The Good Qualities
  • The Full Understanding

Recognition, even public naming, may fall flat if it feels perfunctory. Forced. Incomplete. A Checkmark of Completion. Forgotten until that one week rolls around next year.

Perhaps a feeling of Non-Appreciation the remaining 51 weeks of the year.

The personalized notes. The post its. The hand-written, unsolicited treasures from students, families, and peers. Treasures to receive. Treasures to revisit. Treasured messages that convey appreciation.

What if the “Appreciation” included a personalized reason, example, or some specific piece of evidence?

What if the ‘Appreciation” was simply words from the heart – whether spoken or written?

What if the “Appreciation” was personalized?

When does appreciation convey true meaning?

When does appreciation miss the mark?

(So many questions . . .)

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

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This post was would have been more positive and upbeat if I had not read tis first. Aye, yi yi!

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#SOL20: Passage of Time

At 5:30 the first song is heard.

Within two minutes a responding chorus begins.

Within five minutes single voices are no longer heard above the cacophony.

No light on the horizon.

Slowly he dark sky fades to gray.

The wind chime begins its daily chant.

Squirrels race up the maple tree.

Chattering as they scamper

 From limb to limb and from tree to tree.

The aroma of coffee fills the air

The sun rises above the horizon

The new light shines in the windows

Time to explore.

Time to learn.

Time to begin again.

Chris Doyle has been the strength and conditioning coach at the University of Iowa for the past 22 years. Check out his “Best Practices” wisdom in this tweet.

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What personal “best practices” are keeping you “afloat” at this time? 

What routines are you noticing? 

Do you wake up before the sun?

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

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#SOL20: #BookLove

“Do you belong to a book club?”

This question came out of the blue from a student who was working through some “online” course requirements.  My response, “Yes, and do you want to hear about it or see it?” was quickly answered with “Show me, please!”

As I shared the Facebook platform with units via the ubiquitous shared desktop in zoom, the students’ eyes glittered.  “You mean you are going to read different books EVERY week?”

I shared how the process had worked last year and that this year my goal is to participate in both elementary and secondary book clubs simultaneously so I will actually plan to participate in two DIFFERENT book clubs EVERY week! Now the student’s eyes glazed over under the realization that I was not the person who would say that reading a few chapters in one book each week was a silly assignment as I would really be reading whole books each week.

It’s year 3 for my participation in #BookLove.  Each year has looked a bit different because the elementary book club is only in its second year of operation. You can find out more about the goals of “BookLove” here and the classroom library grants for teachers which is one reason why I continue to join.  But it’s not just the book grants. It’s the community of readers, writers, teachers, and authors who come together each day/week that STRETCH my thinking. The very best part of #BookLove is the summer book club. You can see the book selections under the tab for Summer Book Club Registration.

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BUT only one option is available. The online membership that provides the community of learning alongside the hundreds of teachers who will also be reading the books this summer.  You will have to order your own books from your favorite bookseller.

Not yet convinced?  I wrote about #BookLove19 here. So many changes in our lives this summer so I don’t yet know how many book clubs I will participate in, but I do know that I will be reading, writing, thinking and responding with hundreds of friends in #BookLove20.

What book clubs are you participating in? 

What does your book club WORK look like? 

How does your book club work mirror the work that is expected of students?

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

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#SOL20: Changes

Zooming . . .


Watching a go-cart go

Different times.

Strange times.



A month ago:  $0.88

302.27% increase in a month

A jump from $0.88 to $3.54

302.27% increase in a month

And then a limit of TWO posted on a sign.

The shelf was full.

No shortage.

302.27% increase in a month

Do I dare?

Do I really need them?

Yes, it would be nice to pick up two more.

The supply in the refrigerator is diminishing.

Research:                                                                                      Range           Mostly

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Source:  Link

BUT, they need to be boiled and dyed. It’s a tradition. And then some must be deviled for immediate consumption.

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I was shocked a month ago when a friend in the Tulsa, OK area said there weren’t any eggs available in stores. Eggs were plentiful in Iowa and in fact were $0.88 a dozen for large eggs.

“Not in the Upper Midwest,”  I said.

How quickly the lyrics changed.

I spoke too soon . . .

Do I dare purchase chickens in order to produce my own eggs? 

Or to sell to stores?

                                                                                                         Range               Mostly

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Who benefits from the 302.27% increased price?

Not the producers. Not the folks on fixed income. Not the folks needing a cheap source of protein.  Not the folks who didn’t stock up. The shelves were full of Large and Extra Large eggs by the dozen. No cartons of medium eggs to be found.

What “shortages” have you found? 

What price increases have shocked you? 

What changes have you had to make?

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

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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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