Author Archive: franmcveigh

#SOL18: A Ripple

When do you speak up? When do you take action?  When have you “had enough”?  

I have a question. 

I see an injustice. 

Do I remain quiet? 

Do I speak up? 

What if my question is not accepted? 

What if  . . . 

What is the worst that can happen?



I love this poem that Vicki Vinton posted on Twitter (as well as a new source for poetry)!  It can apply to so many situations in life.

Inaction . . .

Inertia . . .

No longer acceptable . . .

What is the tipping point?

Relative Truths:

Do no harm?


What will be the cost of speech?

What will be the cost of inaction?


“Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water,

the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.”  Dalai Lama

“This is what kindness does, Ms.Albert said. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.” Jacqueline Woodson

What will your “ripple” be?

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


#SOL18: Pinning

15 minutes.

A Pinning . . .

Yes, in nursing,

Yes, in sororities,

Yes, in service,

Specifically in the Army

We sit in a row:  wife, mother, daughter, sister, sister.

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Others slowly gather and fill rows behind us.

Ready and yet waiting.

Adjusting the controls on the screen and listening to the prep work behind the scenes.

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The promotion . . . (yes, via webcam)

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A speech . . .

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Changing rank . . .

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The celebratory cake for the new Command Sergeant Major . . .

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the highest non-commisioned rank in the Army!

And that’s just a small part of “How I Spent My Monday”!

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

Poetry: Love/Hate

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Today’s post is based on the mentor text, “I Hate Poetry”, by a Virginia middle school student.  Her poem can be found here (and all the comments that she responded to individually.  The comments tell exactly why she “hates” poetry!).

How do you feel about poetry? 

Which version best matches your experiences?

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Happy Poetry Friday!

( Click here for more info about Poetry Friday.)


  • Read student’s poem.
  • Studied the rhyme scheme.
  • Jotted down some ideas to include.
  • Decided that I wanted definite stanzas (so drafting outside of WordPress).
  • Used the student’s ideas for the first stanza.
  • Decided to repeat part of the first stanza in the closing stanza.
  • Drafted, revised, drafted!


#SOL18: What to read?

Book Birthdays Abound; What should I read?

If you also wonder, “How do we create lifelong readers?”,  then this is the book for you because it all begins with books!  Yes, books!

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One book that’s hot this week is:  It’s All About the Books!  

Event 1:  Heinemann Publications is hosting a Facebook live session with Tammy and Clare today, Tuesday, April 3rd. Information here! *7:30 pm EST  (podcast link)

Event 2:  #Good2Great chat at 8:30 EST on Thursday, April 5 will have Tammy and Clare as guests hosts. (Literacy Lenses post with storify & Tweets from chat- Link)

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What’s the book about?

This book helps teachers figure out how to maximize their resources (classroom libraries and bookrooms) in order to have the most engaging books available for students when they need them. And you will soon know what Tammy and Clare’s signature quote is when asked how to get the money for more books!  It will make you laugh!

Resource 1:  Heinemann Web page

Resource 2:  Podcast with Tammy and Clare (Link Here)

Resource 3:  Sample chapter

Not YET convinced?

Tammy and Clare are donating their royalties to Penny Kittle’s Book Love Foundation in order to put additional books into the hands of elementary and middle school students.

And in Clare’s own words, the power of books:

Slice one – “A Reader Reminds Me”

Slice two – “The Power of a Book”

This book explains how to inventory, assess and reassemble your book collections so more books are in your students’ hands across the entire year.  This is the week to learn about books with several resources at your fingertips!

What professional books are you reading? 

What’s on your TBR stack?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this writing forum each Tuesday. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

#SOL18: March 31


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So long,


It’s time to say goodbye.


To daily slicing

Not time to stop writing

But time

to plan for other longer writing projects!

Thanks for reading and writing this month!

And so I leave with this format borrowed from first year slicer, Dani Burtsfield, posted yesterday.

I would rather…..                                                                     ….instead of 

drink diet pepsi                                                                      iced tea

get up early                                                                             stay up late

make piles                                                                               put everything away

own a dog                                                                                own a cat

read a book                                                                             watch a movie

count the deer                                                                       live in a city

plant flowers in a pot                                                           have an acre of garden

play with kids                                                                         be the the adults table

visit relatives                                                                          go to a fancy resort

walk                                                                                         run

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

What have you learned about yourself as a writer this month? 

What will you continue to do?  

#SOL18: March 30

Targeted Writing Instruction to Close the Gap

Checking back in with N before the month ends. ( The story began Here, here and here)

Our Plan:

Week 2

Scaffolded Checklist Paper – Narrative Story Writing (below)  – Repeat 5 days

Week 3

Write Using “Regular” Writing Paper

Remember that the first few days had some focused one:one time that was productive and volume seemed to fly so I was concerned that without that one:one we would see the volume of writing decrease.  It did go down some but not nearly as drastically as we had one teacher and one “me” short video designed specifically for him.  Drastic, yes in terms of some time to create a video by each of us! Helpful that it did not take away from any class time with other students. But remember our ambitious goal – hit 3rd grade targets by the end of the year.

Week 2

N wrote 2 stories on the Narrative Paper with the checklists.  He met the targets on the checklists and it really helped that he was a part of the checklist creation.  He not only knew what it said.  He knew what each item meant.  He fancied one up and published it.  We used cut-up labels to fix some of the spelling words, added in some neon revising strips, and a front cover and a back cover.

He was Jazzed!  Normally fairly shy and reticent in many literacy activities, he read that book to EVERYONE that came into the room.  We recorded it on SeeSaw!

Weekly Goal met! (Support from classroom teacher in person, via video, and me also via video)

Week 3

N identified two goals for himself this week.  He did want to use regular paper (but he wanted the ones with checklists on his desk so he could look at them) and he wanted a writing partner in class. (I was toast and so VERY happy to not be a “required” part!)

He named two possible partners and one was available and willing.  During the week they planned, wrote and worked together. Two teacher conferences.  Two pieces written by the end of the week.  Both had evidence of revision and editing.  Solid meeting of the third grade checklist items.

Weekly Goal met!

Socially:  New friends courtesy of his writing partner. New activities at recess courtesy of changing weather.  Almost a “swagger” when walking in the hall.  Whole new confidence . . . across the entire day!

We don’t have a post on-demand score YET.

Our plan took time to develop. Because he was a part of the classwork he had all the behaviors in the first column.  We tried shared writing.  We added in partner writing with his choice of a partner.  We used the last two items on the volume column and reduced the items on the checklist to close the gap.  We’ll be able to evaluate our plan soon.  We did not “throw everything but the kitchen sink into this plan.”  Reasonable. Repeatable. Sustainable. Doable.  But now we do have some ideas and a framework; if and when the situation arises again.

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How valuable is planning?

In this instance it’s not about THE plan, but it is about the conversations as we developed the plan. 

We named a variety of possibilities.

We identified some choices for the teacher and student! 

A win/win!

Remember that this student wanted to write as badly as we wanted to support his writing.  There are no guarantees that this will work for the next student, but we have identified a process, as well as a way to develop and organize some possibilities.  And we maximized our work by adding in some quick video responses without assigning the classroom teacher to be at his beck and call.

We believe the single most important factor: 

Planning to remove the scaffolds before we began.

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

#SOL18: March 29

Serial Story:  Scene 6

Okay before the month ends, here’s a return to Maria’s story.

(Continued from Scene 1Scene 2 & 3, Scene 4, and  Scene 5)

“Only 20 minutes left.” Face wrinkled.  Can smell her fear . . . Staring at the clock again. 9:40 pm.

Maria paced, “What’s the deal with the ambulance?” she wondered.  “The after-game crowd is always here by now.”  She stopped, turned, and peered out the front window.

“What do you think, Juan?  Did the game just go long?”

He came out of the kitchen, shuffling over to the door to check on traffic out in the street. “Nada,” he said.

Smile long forgotten, Maria paced again.  “So close,” she thought. “Just $4.82 more tonight and I will have the rent money.  Anything else i make tonight or tomorrow will be mine to spend.”

The minute hand continued to tick away.  Headlights, and then a car pulled in and parked. Five minutes before ten. Maria raced to fill water glasses, still praying for a crowd . . . but willing to settle for just four or five tables of customers.

As the door opens, her expectant smile turns down.  It’s Joe, the owner.  “Where is everybody?” He looks around as if customers are hiding under the tables.

Maria shrugs her shoulders.  “That’s what we were wondering.  The ambulance went by 20 minutes ago.  It’s quit snowing so at least if someone got hurt they won’t be lying in a pile of snow on the field . . . I hope.”

“Well, what do you two want to do?  Stay open a bit longer or go ahead and close up?” Joe steps behind the counter. “Juan, are you ready to go home?”

Juan starts to nod his head and then sees the expression on Maria’s face.  He remains mute, waiting for Maria to speak.

Maria says, “I think people will be cold and hungry.  If we only knew whether the game was over, then it would be easier to decide.” And in unison, they turn towards the lights and sounds behind them on Main Street. Cars pulling up out front, doors slamming, voices, the door opening and a steady stream of people.  All talking at once. Loud voices.  Cold air. Red noses and cheeks.  Coats tightly fastened to keep out the cold.

“Three coffees over here, Maria.”

“Hot chocolate here, Maria.”

It looks like every seat is filled.  Maria’s face is consumed by a grin stretching from ear to ear.  “The tips don’t even have to be good and I’ll be able to make some extra money,” she thought. Busy at Joe’s Diner on a Friday night after the football game was often good for $20.00 or more in tips.  But with the excitement of the ambulance, there was a story here that just might cause the diners to linger a little longer to tell their own stories about what delayed the game.  After all, her homework was done and she had no place to go until 11 am when she had to be back at the diner for her Saturday shift.

Disaster averted. Rent paid.  “Wait til I tell Mama when I talk to her tomorrow.  Maybe she’ll have good news about Grandma and she will tell me when she’ll be back. I miss my family. I don’t really like living alone.” She picked up her order pad and started through the crowd taking orders and turning them in to Juan, bouncing from table to table.

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

Did the story end as you predicted? 

What details did you expect to have wrapped up? 

How might you construct your own version of a serial story?

#SOL18: March 28

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Drip! Drip! Drip! Drip!

Gently, slowly,

Each drop distinctly different.

Read, comment, read, comment,

Catch up, catch up, catch up,

A slicer’s work is never done!

Booming thunder

Loud and rhythmic

Not just white noise.

Write, read, write, revise

Let it rest, let it brew

A writer’s work is never done!

Pounding, roaring, louder and louder

Mya crouching and hiding

Lightning has arrived.

No time to nap, relax

Or read for fun today

A PD presenter’s work is never done!

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

#SOL18: March 27 Spring


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Temps rise

Green tendrils peek out

Rain showers

Signs of Spring.

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A snowstorm

Blankets the ground

Melting rapidly

Signs of Winter.

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Back and forth

White and green

Rain and snow

A bit of Spring – a bit of Winter.

Never easy

Seasons overlap

Winter is leaving –

Spring is arriving!

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016


#SOL18: March 26 A March March

Not the first

Probably not the last

But a march for the books

Created by students

Enacted by students

Led by students

Encompassing the world

And demanding change.

What about the “Naysayers”?

They should have stayed in school March 14.

They walked OUT for 17 minutes of silence to honor the 17 dead.



They should “walk up” and make friends with the disenfranchised.

Respect for their peers, who are alone, should occur every day.



They should arm the teachers.

Teachers already provide instruction and in many cases, act as:

social workers, nurses, truant officers, coaches, curriculum writers,

test monitors, behavior management specialists,

cooks, transportation provider, time manager, hall monitor, 

and every other role legislated/mandated in your state.



They should have spent the money from the march on education and services for the mentally ill.

When the President signed the Executive Order that allowed

easier access to guns for the mentally ill?

 When Congress has reduced the funding for mentally ill individuals,

the students should supplant it with their funding?



The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were organized, articulate, and such exemplar products of our public schools.

Speaking (and publicly puking from fear) from the heart to explain that this has become the “new normal” with active shooter drills, in between test prep, and wondering about college acceptance letters, prom and graduation.  Those events their 14 classmates cannot participate in because they are dead. Those seventeen lives lost in six minutes and twenty seconds.

They are fighting for their lives.

They are fighting for the lives of all the children that come after them.

They are fighting for the lives of ALL folks lost to gun violence.

They deserve to be heard.

They deserve our respect.

They deserve our praise.

They deserve our support.

They are our future.

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

And special thanks to Margaret Simon for the helpful advice on this post.  Check out her post, “Marching”, here. Other slices can be found here, here and here.


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