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#Celebratelu: Life

Screenshot 2017-12-09 at 10.21.44 AM.png

In the waning days of 2017, it is important to celebrate LIFE.

When I say that it’s been a tough year, tears begin.  It was an absolutely awful year because we lost so many . . .


and without that last farewell.

Black holes of despair.

My godfather, my godson (nephew) and his wife, my brother, my mother-in-law, and now another cousin’s spouse.

And, YET,

Life continues.

We celebrate our memories, we laugh at the stories, and we remember with our shattered hearts.  We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and celebrate every precious moment.  We don’t know how long we have, so we celebrate the life we live. The events:  concerts, football, basketball, wrestling . . . The food.  The locations.

We bring our memories with us.  We wallow in out love.  We share. We cry. We laugh. We love.  We live.

I’m sharing a poem from a memorial service last week.

Screenshot 2017-12-09 at 10.32.27 AM

Easy?  Heck, no! 

But necessary?  Yes! 

Choose to celebrate their Love! 

Choose to celebrate their Lives! 

Choose to celebrate your LIFE! 

And anticipate that 2018 will be a year of LIFE like no other!   🙂






#SOL17: “Write, Write, Write!”


Day 2

and they chanted,

“Write!  Write!  Write!”

On Day 2

a classroom

filled with second graders


“Write!  Write!  Write!”

Forming a community,

Working on routines,


YET . . .

“When is writing?”


“Write!  Write!  Write!”

Filled the air waves.

This writing teacher’s heart is filled with joy.

A classroom of second graders

On Day 2



Even Anxious,


Write, Write, Write!

If your students come to you this year filled with a passion and joy for writing, how will you maintain and extend it?  

If your students are not YET filled with a passion and joy for writing, how will you create a love for writing?

And special thanks to the kindergarten and first grade teachers who helped these students find JOY in writing!

Thanks to the teacher and 2nd graders for being a part of my teaching life this week!

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

#DigiLitSunday: Wonder

What is left to accomplish at school?

Building stamina as a reader:

Reading Volume

Reading Choice

Joy Reading

Talk about Reading

Writing About Reading

Building stamina as a writer:

Writing Volume

Writing Choice

Joy Writing

Talk about Writing

Writing About Reading

Why is stamina important at the end of the year?

Stamina in both reading and writing is one way to counteract the “summer slide”. Reading and writing are NOT just “something to do” at school.  Reading and writing are both tools for living and need to be a part of everyone’s life . . . every day.  We need to find and celebrate the richness and relevancy that reading and writing bring to our “everyday” lives!

Important Wonderings:  

How much reading should students do in the summer?  

How much writing should students do in the summer?  

How much “talk” should students do in the summer?

 Is “talk” equally as important as writing about learning?

Encouragement, Advice, and Plans for Students for the rest of this year . . .

  1.  Build TBR plans
  2.  Build monthly Literacy action/Bingo Boards (Writing Bingo Board from TWT) or the Wonder Board below where students generate their own questions to answer
  3.  Schedule school library “open” days
  4.  Coordinate literacy events with the public library
  5.  Continue Family Literacy events

wonder board

What are your wonders?

Check out Margaret Simon’s “Reflections on the Teche for more posts about “Wonder”.



#SOL17: Service?

“I can understand complete sentences.  Please speak in complete sentences.”

Please connect me with a service representative.

“I can help you with that.

I need your first name and last name.

I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that.

Would you please repeat your first name and last name?”

First name. Last name.

Slower and Louder the second time.

“What is your billing address?

Please include your full address:


Apartment number,




Please clearly state your full address now.”

Full Address

“Please tell me the first name and last name of the person on the account.”

First name. Last name.

“And who am I speaking to today?

Please tell me your first name and your last name.”

First name. Last name.  A.G.A.I.N.  Seriously?

“What is the phone number associated with your account?

Please state the entire 10 digit number.”

Phone number.

“What is your account number?

This is the 10 digit number associated with your account.

There are no letters.

They are all numbers.

Please tell me if you need time to get your account number.”

Account number.

“How can I help you today?”

I have no phone or internet service.  Please connect me with a service representative.

“I can help you with that.”

Today is DAY NINE.  One service tech visit later and two hours of working internet.

One brief interlude.

Now gone.

Anatomy of phone calls . . .

The shortest time from a call to a “real person” is five minutes and two seconds.

And guess what that conversation is once I am connected to a “live” person:

“Could I have your first and last name?

Could I have your 10 digit phone number?

Can I have your address?

. . .

What is acceptable in terms of service response time?  

A lack of internet is a HUGE problem for me.

(Teaching an online class, work tasks, twitter, messages & pix from all) 

To Windstream?

Apparently not!

On the upside, I have read more in the last week.

On the downside, my patience with any technology issues is now -10 and dropping rapidly!

Advice?  Suggestions?  Similar situations?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

#SOL17: Books I will read?

How many books do I read a year?

This sounds like a possible algebraic equation with:

a = the number of books purchased for demonstrations

b = the number of YA books purchased to read and/or share

c = the number of professional books read

d = the number of books reread

e = audiobooks, scripts, shorter print resources

In a simple world:

a + b + c + d + e  = the total number of books read.

Do I really keep track of my books?


Not at all!

Can I make a guess?  Sure!

Each week I probably read 2-3 kid lit books, 2-3 books for fun (often conspiracy theory books), and 1-2-3 professional books.  DISCLAIMER:  The professional books are not read from cover to cover all the time.  Often a professional book begins with one chapter here or another chapter there and then I dive in and read the rest of the book!

I love to read!

I love to read series books!  

I love to read!  

I love to read a lot!

So a blog post titled “How Many Books Will You Read Before You Die?” caught my eye.  My interest was totally due to the “How Many Books Will You Read?” part of the question.  I’m not interested in the last three words (although we have many more widows in my mother’s generation 5 and 0 widowers) because I’m really into living in the here and now (except for when my nose is in a book).

Interesting data categories:

Average reader per year = 12 books per year

Voracious reader per year = 50 books per year

Super reader per year = 80 books per year

Would you be an average reader?  

Would you be a voracious reader?  

Would you be a super reader?  

Would you be an “Extreme Reader”? 

As you are thinking about your category, consider the data in this chart.


Retrieved 3.28.17 from Source Here

What do I see in this data?

 I think I need to increase my reading drastically.  I vote for a book or two EVERY DAY EVERY YEAR!  That would be a minimum of 3,650 books every decade or APPROXIMATELY 10,000 books left.  That’s better than being a 25 year old, don’t you think?

What books are on your MUST READ list?

How many books a year do you think you read?  

How do you keep track?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum and the #SOLSC that runs from March 1 to the 31st. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.


My guesstimate =  Extreme Reader  = 300 books each year

I love to read.

I love to read a lot.

I love to read.

I love to binge read everything an author has written.

I love to read.

#SOLSC17: Paying Attention

Which narrative matters?

Is it the one I see?

Did you see Melanie Meehan’s March 9th #SOL post? It has a video from the parents of Sandy Hook. Please go watch it here and then come back.

Life consists of layers.

There’s what is happening on the surface.

You might only see what happens as a reaction to surface actions.

Your neck may hurt because you are constantly swiveling to take in as much information as possible.

Yet, do we OVER focus on what is probably not what it seems?

Not what it means?

Not the “REAL” action?

Not the “REAL” story?

It’s all about perspective.

What do you see?

perspective one

It depends.

What do you see?


Perspective can be tricky.

Life is scary.

One second of inattention can be life changing.

Especially while driving down the road.

It might be you.

It might be another driver.

Life happens.

Change happens.

How do you stay “in the moment”? 

How do you pay attention to “the REAL story”?

How do you focus on living life?

slice of life

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum and the #SOLSC that runs from March 1 to the 31st. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 


early morning slicer

#SOLSC17: Two Views of Time

     A Gift of Time

  Time Lost  

I wake up early

I should still be sleeping

I can read or write

I can go back to sleep

I think of slicer topics

I can hear each second pass by

I read

I close my eyes, reflect on my reading . . . sleep now?

I read some more

I stare at the clock, count backwards, close my eyes tighter

I begin to write

I wish I were back asleep

Ideas flow

But sometimes my best ideas are my morning ideas

My spirit says “JOYFUL” with this found time

My body says “tired” and it’s way too early to be awake.

Extra Reading and Writing Time Today!

Starting the day our tired and curmudgeonly!

When faced with polar opposites, which do you choose?

How does your choice impact you?

Reader Information:

This post was inspired by Erika Victor’s Slice “That Happy/Sad Feeling” found here.

slice of life


Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum and the #SOLSC that runs from March 1 to the 31st. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 


early morning slicer

#SOLSC17: “Your connection is not secure”

Have you ever gotten this message?

If not, consider yourself fortunate.

Unfortunately, this morning it is my message on Google Chrome.

It is my message on Firefox.

It is my message on my Dell.

It is my message on my iPad mini.

Fortunately. It is not my message on my Samsung phone.


On Day 2 of the SOLSC!

     Change in plan.

      Change in topic.

      How does this work from the app?

      New learning?


It’s really a small blip in the day.

But after 79 minutes of  computer frustration, my writing time is totally gone.

What other surprises will I find today?

(P.S. My computer was in the repair shop from 7:30 – 11:00 a.m.)

slice of life

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum and the #SOLSC that runs from March 1 to the 31st. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

#DigiLitSunday: Critical Thinking



Additional posts at Reflections on the Teche

So I had a week’s worth of thinking about this topic after Margaret Simon proposed it last week in a response to my blog here. But this quote really caused me to pause yesterday. “Critical thinking” is a buzz word; what does it really mean?


. . . “not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.”

In the field of education and state standards, Iowa was the LAST state in 2008 to adopt state standards for all students in Iowa because of our much lauded “local control”.  So when I look for “critical thinking” I rely on the 21st century standards that are in addition to the literacy standards that apply for all content areas.

“The reality of building capacity for the 21st century is that we do not know what the work of the future will be like (Darling-Hammond, 2007) or how technology will influence health and financial issues. The challenge is to prepare students to think critically, to engage in mental activity, or habits of mind, that “…use facts to plan, order, and work toward an end; seek meaning or explanations; are self-reflective; and use reason to question claims and make judgments…” (Noddings, 2008). It may be that our task is not only to prepare students to “fit into the future” but to shape it. “…If the complex questions of the future are to be determined… by human beings…making one choice rather than another, we should educate youths – all of them – to join in the conversation about those choices and to influence that future…” (Meier, 2008).”

This challenge continues to be hard work. “To think critically”, “to engage in mental activity” and “…use facts to plan, order, and work toward an end; seek meaning or explanations; are self-reflective; and use reason to question claims and make judgments…”  Those quotes are hard to define, explain, teach and even harder to assess.

What does “critical thinking” look like in a classroom?

Well, the easiest answer is to go directly to Vicki Vinton’s post today.  Yes, NOW!  Stop.  Go read it.  Then come back.  THAT post is all about critical thinking!  Is that the work that your fifth graders are doing?  Is that the work that your high school students are doing?

In the spirit of full disclosure,

that is work that I NEVER did even in college.

I seem to be saying that a lot lately.  Maybe I went to the wrong school.  Maybe I was educated in the wrong era.  Maybe I was never “pushed” to go beyond the literal.  Maybe I was not really paying attention.  Maybe I never had to do any critical thinking in school.  YEP, I was thinking, without a single clue of HOW to be thinking!

This might have been a school’s approach to “Critical Thinking” in the past. . .


or still in the present. You be the judge!

Has it been effective?

When problem solving is a part of the critical thinking conversation the water may be muddied as the two are not necessarily the same.


Nevertheless, critical thinking will be required of all our students in their lifetime.  They need the best preparation for life possible and that DOES include learning to read and understand at deep levels as well as a call to action to solve problems and think of creative solutions.  Critical thinking does require a variety of skills as shown in this graphic.


And unfortunately, we will continue to expect folks to use all of these critical thinking skills to process driving situations, TV commercials, and yes, printed text almost simultaneously.  In order to be able to do this efficiently and effectively, our students will need a lot of practice.

How will you continue to define and study your own knowledge base of “critical thinking”?

When do you use “critical thinking” in your life?

How do you model, plan for, and provide time for critical thinking in your classroom?


#DigiLitSunday: “Possible Sentences

Join Margaret Simon at “Reflections on the Teche” for additional #DigiLit Sunday reading here.


Kylene Beers and Bob Probst are both speakers that I can listen to time and time again I’ve seen them at ILA, NCTE, and Kylene more than once at #TCRWP.  One strategy that I participated in that has stuck with me is “Possible Sentences”.  As a workshop participant, it went as Melanie Swider of “Two Reflective Teachers” described here although the session I attended was on a different date.


How can students more “authentically” USE vocabulary words and do more of the vocabulary “heavy lifting” in understanding and owning the words?

Possible Sentence Basic Process:

The teacher chooses vocabulary words.

The students, doing the work, predict and use the words in sentences.

*Then as a class, all the sentences are compiled and then questions are generated for each sentence.

Students read.

Students return to their sentences and questions to revise them based on the understanding of the topic after reading.

How could we start using “Possible Sentences” in Book Clubs or in Content Area classes and add in some meaningful, very purposeful, use of technology?

Here’s what I proposed for our first learning practice:

You can go to the actual documents through the links below and save your eyesight:

Google Drawing Student Task Card link

Google Drawing Teacher Card linklink

Tools:  NewsELA article,, Google Drawings cards, Google Docs – Response

Are you using “Possible Sentences”?

Have you added a technology component to increase student collaboration?

What tools did / would you use?

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