Category Archives: Uncategorized

#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?

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

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#SOL20: Glimpses

A weekend. A few short days.




A spelling contest.

Painting pumpkins.

Pumpkin patch.

Football game.

And of course eating.

So many stories of life. So little time. So much time. Time together.

Scouts. Remembering meetings from 25 years ago as we listened to the oath and heard about community helpers. Service projects for five year olds.

Soccer. Remembering those first Little League games as we learned the rules and the formats. Following the same process for five year olds’ soccer.

Swimming. The joy of an indoor pool in October. Laughter and high jinx by the brothers. Swimming, jumping and splashing. Shortening my life as the daredevil two year old stepped off the edge. Fearless. Fearful. Family together.

Spelling contest. Begun with grandma and grandson. Evolved to Dad and son. “Antidisestablishmentarianism” vs “like” and other rhyming words.

Painting pumpkins. Observing the pumpkins. What is the same? What is different?

  • ALL Four with gems.
  • ALL Four with faces. . . Eyes and mouths.
  • ALL Four with painted stems.
  • ALL Four with happy mouths.
  • Three with blue.
  • Three with purple.
  • Remembering all people were wearing some paint! Painting . . . not for the faint of heart when multiple colors are used and children are encouraged to be creative.
  • Decorating pumpkins . . .

A weekend with the kids!

What do we value?

How do you know?

What would you write about from your weekend?

Process: List “All About Events”. Consider details of each event. Which sounds interesting/intriguing? Choose one to draft additional details to lead to small moments.

Pumpkin painting was fun. We chose our pumpkins and began to talk about what we might use. We tried to share the paint and the glue. Sorting gems was interesting. Red. Orange. Yellow. Big. Medium. Small. Use the gems to decorate? Use the gems as eyes and body parts on the pumpkins? So many choices. As we worked we all used gems. All our pumpkins had faces with eyes and happy mouths. All had painted stems. Favorite colors were blue and purple with blue also as the most “worn” color by the people. It was fun to paint pumpkins with the kids.

If you are going to paint pumpkins, choose your work area carefully. If everyone will get their own paintbrushes, you may want to cover the table or work area to make clean up easier. Then you need to decide HOW you will decorate the pumpkins. Will you only use paint? And how many colors? If you want to use other craft items, you will need glue to attach them to the pumpkins. Paint and glue may make you think about whether you also need to cover the floor in your work area.

Plain pumpkins waiting. Waiting to be chosen for a painting marathon. A card table covered with a Halloween plastic tablecloth. A table littered with items. A pack of paint brushes. A half dozen or so paint tubes. Dixie cups waiting for paint to be dribbled in for easier access. One Dixie cup with water to rinse out paint brushes. A container of gems. A bottle of glue. Ready? Set. Go!

Three paragraphs written in 10 minutes total. Which one would you choose to continue writing? How do we model different approaches to our writing? What does your own writing notebook work look like?


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

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____________________________________________________________________________ Drive-time Drafting: “No, please, no!” echoed as the creature approached me. “Let me grow bigger. I’m too small for you to choose me now.”

I surveyed my surroundings. So many empty places, that formerly held friends and relatives. Whole stems broken and discarded, vines trampled, and destruction everywhere.

I couldn’t see who else was still clinging to the vine. Was I the last survivor? Was everyone else already either painted, carved or facing some other torture devised by humans?

#SOL20: Memories

Recognize this?


Or these?

Tray 1 began with 1962-63. Ancient history perhaps for some of you. A gold mine for others.

Farm Progress Show


Farm Progress Show


Farm Progress Show


. . .


Family Events

Family Trips

Flower Gardens

And kids.

Multiple generations.

Sifting through lives.


Squinting to match the label with the slide.

Best technology of the 1960’s . . .

Slides . . .

Reviewing them in 2020.

Guessing contents from faint penciled labels.

Matching ink labels with guesstimate of pictures.

Surprise . . . some did not match.

Actually many did not match!

Giggling about babies of years gone by.

Anticipating . . .

Babies yet to come.


What lens do you use when sorting memories?  Current events?  Past events?                                          When do you decide to linger with a story?            What is the value of your memories?                      Which will you read from the pictures?                Which will you tell and retell?                                 Which will you write about?


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

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Remember . . .

Reflection? Silence? A conversation? 19 years Honoring Memories The memorial and museum are amazing. Some of the highlights of my first visit are found here. Resources from the 15 year anniversary are included in this blog post. Remember September” by Karla Ruth is also a treat! And check out Sara Ahmad’s story here!

What do you remember?

What books or songs are a part of your reflection?

#SOL20: Weather

The forecast says:

Today’s high will be lower than the typical low for this date.

The forecast says:

Record broken that has stood for over 120 years.

The forecast says:

Rain imminent.

Whether the high is lower than the typical low, or the record is broken or the rain continues . . . the weather is what it is!

Hope is: a second blooming of this petunia, stretching up between cement blocks, searching for sunlight, a bright bloom surviving in spite of the odds, an unplanned, volunteer petunia.

Where will you find your hope?

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

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(Not thrilled with new WordPress editor.)

#SOL20: A Single Hour

Let me be perfectly clear.  I’m lucky I live in SE Iowa.  Out of range.

Yes, it was black out. Yes, I watched as the wooden chair tipped over and was pushed across the deck. Then another chair twisted in the wind as it toppled over.  The glass-topped patio table danced three feet across the deck. I watched the plants in pots in plant stands topple over. Living green leaves attached to skinny branches were driven into the ground like darts and soon dotted every square foot of the yard. Dead branches looked like Tinker toys as they fell from the trees.

Wind, yes.

Scary, yes.

Life-threatening, no.

Loss of electricity, no.

Damage to homes, no.

I’m lucky.

Our area was lucky.

Others not so much.

A derecho hit Iowa last week.

A tornado with category two hurricane force winds.

Little notice.

Folks now living in tents. No electricity. No food. No water. No showers. No internet. No phones. No air conditioning. No fans. No light. No electricity.  No viable homes.

Day 6 . . . 90,000 without power.


60 minutes


Day 7 . . . 63,000 without power.

Day 8 . . . over 30,000 without power.

  • Linemen working night and day.
  • Debris that must be removed.
  • Crews from as far as Canada are on the ground providing assistance.

And yet many are existing in tents. 20,000 fed, Covid-safely, yesterday.

3,600 seconds later . . .

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Early estimate: 10,000,000 acres of crops look like this. Ten million acres.

2020 . . . the year that just keeps giving . . .

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

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#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


Table runner – right half


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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#SOLSC20: Day 17


Rules . . .

Serve a purpose.

Rules . . .

Need to be followed.

Rules . . .

Necessary evil.

30 day visitation ban to stop coronavirus . . .

Screenshot 2020-03-16 at 8.30.24 PM

But in these days of technology, what about Facetime, Google Hangout, Zoom or even a phone call?

What about the patient advocate? The social worker?

Maybe the gentleman didn’t want help, because he had this solution figured out.  But did anyone ask? In 67 years, they had never been apart on an anniversary.

How can the community support EVERYONE? 

Where is the love?

Who can you support?

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

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Repeated Reading: A Cycle

This is Part 5 and the final in a series about Repeated Reading.  But it could be about any popular  research-based strategy.  It should be!

Student Learning is the Focus. All decisions about resources, including time and money, are based on the cycle of learning. Not just “buying stuff.”  Not just “here’s a PD day to fill.” Not just “what do we like?”

Beginning with student learning. Students at the center of the decisions.  Student Learning driving ALL decision-making!

“Core Beliefs:

o All students can learn.
o The purpose of professional development is to increase student achievement.
o Professional development should be collective learning by all teachers and administrators with an emphasis on improving instruction.”

What is the process?

I. Set a Goal

2. Selection of Content which includes Checking the Research (Part 1)

3. Design a Process for Professional Development/Learning (Part 4)

4. Teaching / Learning Opportunities – Checking in (Part 2) What do teachers                need to learn?  How will they learn it?  How can we set some measurable                targets?

5. Collaboration / Implementation

6.  Ongoing Data Collection including Listen to the Students (Part 3)

7. Program Evaluation – Going back to the teacher data in Part 4:  Has there been       growth? How do we know?

8. Collecting / Analyzing Student Data – Is the gap closing? Are students growing          more capable?  Are students more independent?

Always, Always, Always keeping students at the Center!

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Also blogged about here

What does the model say?

Participative decision-making

Not just one person making a decision

Not just one person buying a “box of something”

Not just one person saying, “go forth and use this”

The process would be to study the research, consider the needs and then make a decision based on resources, match to student population, cost to implement, and time frame needed for results. Consider the status quo, set up a plan for professional learning, and then get started while watching for checkpoints across the journey.

It looks and sounds easy. It’s not. It’s messy. Forward two steps and back one. People. Temperaments. Knowledge. All impact implementation plans.

But with STUDENT LEARNING (not achievement) at the center, the focus is on the right thing!

Are you focused on learning? 

Are you focused on achievement? 

Which one has life-long implications?

Which one no longer matters after students finally walk out the school doors?




#SOL19: Day 22 SOLSC

Katie Clement’s session at #TCRWP’s 96th Saturday Reunion was titled Teaching Literary Essay as a Vehicle for Teaching High-Level Opinion and Argument Writing Skills” and it was packed with gems of information.

What is the purpose of the writing?  

When students are thinking about the audience for their writing, they are also thinking through the lens of what will appeal to that audience.  Sounds easy.  But is it?  This may be the part that gets messy and then means that the essay may become a blend of other formats including packing in some information or a microstory.  Mining a story for ideas for a claim/thesis and then supporting that claim/thesis would allow students to practice  building compelling opinions and arguments beyond just listing their ideas.

What mentor text might you use?

I love Katherine Bomer’s The Journey is Everything found here. This text helped me grow my own knowledge of an essay.  Katie also suggested this resource.  Have you seen it?

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What are some qualities of essays? 38 Total Essays.  Sounds like fun inquiry that I need to dig into! (I’m waiting for the book to arrive.)

How have you studied essay? 

What do your own essays look like? 

What do “essays in the world” look like?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily March forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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A meeting place for a world of reflective writers.

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"The problem with people is they forget that that most of the time it's the small things that count." (Said by Finch in All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. These are my small things that count.