Category Archives: Uncategorized

#SOL21: Probability

What does it mean?

100% Probability was the label.



For the next hour?

For the next day?

A quick peek confirms.

100% now . . . for sure!

Driving on the interstate

100% probability that my windshield would fog over with the controls still on AC. Not cool.

100% probability that a semi would pass another below the speed limit.

100% probability that someone would slow down to 20 below the speed limit.

And then another “sporadic shower”


100% continuous!

What else in life is 100% probability?

100%; your fingers will be orange after eating nacho chips.

100%; you will need a napkin for buttery fingers after movie theater popcorn.

100% . . .

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Gratitude

Thank you, teachers.

Thank you for your passion.

Thank you for your curiosity.

Thank you for your joy.

Thank you for your willingness to stretch and grow.

This quote is my current favorite. So many folks think it. It’s officially in the world.

All readers deserve instruction from a skilled teacher but this book is specific based on the needs of emergent readers. They need MORE connections and practices across the day and fewer 10 or 15 minutes of isolated, segmented drudgery. Teachers uplifting JOY as they work to provide the best learning environments possible. That’s the key to success,

Thank you, Carolyn and Susan! And Stenhouse.

Want to know more?

#G2Great chat archive Link

Literacy Lenses blog post by Dr. Mary Howard Link

“intentional” . . . current favorite word!

What are you thanking teachers for as they prepare to enter the third year of schooling disrupted with stress over COVID surges? What are your reading professionally? Where do you find your JOY?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Milestones

Which one?

85158? The conundrum of a palindrome as the numbers keep adding up and up.

921 E. 2nd ? Home away from home. A landing spot.

1835 Orange Avenue

This post will be my 900th post. Never did I ever imagine that I would write 900 posts. Never did I imagine these posts would continue to be written on a weekly (or more) basis. More on this number next week!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

How did numbers impact my days?

A week’s worth of driving. Sorting, labeling, sifting through artifacts, dreams and days gone by. Rooms cleared. Boxes packed out. And still more rooms. Ad infinitum.

Numbers where I stayed. Numbers where I worked. Numbers while I drove. Numbers pounding away every day.

Until finally, an end in sight.

Binary choices?

  • Done? Not done? Where was “good enough”?
  • Making decisions. Not making decisions. Extremes in thoughts and actions.
  • Asking for advice. Some replies. Many texts and messages ignored.

Goal: Task completion

Closing the door on the empty family house of fifty years. Holding tight to memories. Letting go of stuff.

What “stuff” can you let go of? What memories shall you hold instead? How do we continue to move forward in the best possible ways? Beginnings? Endings? Cycles continue.


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Life and Learning

What do i need to let go of?

The old way: the standard was a 5/8 inch seam; and the new is 1/4 inch seams.

Too much or too little means the corners don’t match and the resulting square or rectangle is not square. Not a huge problem for small items but magnified by inches with every foot that is added to the construction of a full sized quilt .

How do we learn something new?

During the last months, life has been a bit different. Challenging? Rife with Possibilities? Hanging onto the shore? Swimming toward new horizons?

Our time and our activities seemed to occur in different universes, sometimes parallel, and sometimes nonsenical tangents.One new area for me was quilting. After a 30 year hiatus I was finally sewing again. I’ve felt the thrill of accomplishment as I completed dozens of hot pads, over 60 table runners, and now four quilts.

Following a sewing pattern is still sometimes challenging. Creating my own designs is exhilarating when it works. And oh, so frustrating when it misses the mark.

Life is hard. Learning is hard. And yet life and learning go hand in hand. .

A tweet credits this visual to Shana Frazin at TCRWP and last week’s Reading Institute.15

All of these mantras fit my life and often cause me to pause..

When have you had to “lose sight of the shore”? What new horizons were waiting for you? Which mantras fit your life?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: The Good Old Days

It’s summertime in the Midwest. The corn is anywhere between waist high and shoulder high so it exceeds the “knee high by the 4th of July expectations.” 60% of the corn crop is normal. Normal. In an Iowa where 80+ of the counties are still in a drought. After more than 10 inches of rain in 48 hours, still in a drought. Hard to imagine.

Beans are 50% normal. At the closing bell Monday, new crop beans were 34 to 42 3/4 cents in the black at $12.62 a bushel. July 21 soybeans closed at $13.57, up 27 1/4 cents.

After last year’s derecho, no Iowa farmer is holding their breath.

Farming roots run deep.

I watch the weather daily.

I study the crops from the roads.

Sometimes I stop and check.

Soybean fields that had cockleburs like this or volunteer corn would earn me $40

back in the day,

The Good Old Days!

Variations exist:

Cleaning the beans . . . one way link

Walking the Beans . . . a resurgence for organic farmers link

The Goal: A field that looks like this.

Zero Weeds.

Walking the Beans

For a couple weeks of work.

Sun up to sun down.

Delayed only by lightning.

Walking the beans

Usually 40 acres.

The field that had corn the year before.

Walking the beans


Buttonweeds – easy to pull

Cockleburs – prickly with deep roots

Corn – volunteer corn that was usually connected to part of a corn cob

Common weeds that would reduce the value of the bean crop.

Walking the beans

Sometimes with siblings; sometimes not.

There was one particular summer that still stands out.

I was seven or eight. Not old enough to walk the beans, but Mom and Dad and my youngest brother were gone somewhere so I followed my two elder siblings out to the bean field. It was too boring to stay in the house where I had been relegated by my youth. It was a hot summer day, with a light breeze that caused the beans to wave back and forth in a stately synchronized waltz. A pleasant summer day.

I had two rows in between my sister’s four and my brother’s four. Ten rows down. Ten rows back. Twenty rows clean in one round trip. A quick water break and then back to it. I had gloves, ill-fitting, but gloves nevertheless. I was too little to have a hoe so I pulled weeds by hand.

And then there was a hill of corn. I tugged. Some broke off. It felt like an entire bushel. I pulled some more. A few more leaves split as I yanked with all my might.

I yelled for help from one of my siblings.

My brother arrived. Raised the hoe. Brought it down


I was on the ground screaming as bright red blood mixed with the black dirt and the green split leaves of corn.

I screamed again.

The sight of all that blood leaking from just below my knee was worse than the pain at that very moment.

Blood everywhere.

And my knee buckled as I fell to the ground.

Literally felled by a hoe.

It was a long trip back to the house. With an even longer wait for our parents to come home. (Cell phones were NOT in existence decades and decades ago.)


I was the one in trouble.

I was not supposed to be in the bean field.

I look at that scar and shake my head now. Superglue might be the treatment du jour.

For me, it was the first time I got stitches.

And then the second time,

And then just left to heal on its own

As they ripped out when I knelt at church,

Or when I walked around.


of course,

no pay.

I wasn’t supposed to be there after all.

Troublemaker ME!

Have you ever been in trouble when trying to do the right thing? How did the problem resolve itself? And how long does it sometimes take to get to the “really good part of the story”?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

And thank you #TCRWP Writing Institute for the time to begin this narrative draft.

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#iareads: Adventure Awaits … Day 2

Friday started early with two session with Lucy Calkins. Great thanks to the BookSource/Capstone/Heinemann reps for the early bird breakfast video session with Lucy. We were able to ask questions and gather TCRWP thinking about fall 2021 student needs and plans to meet them.

And then there was the three hour session with Lucy Calkins, “Revisiting the Essentials of Writing Workshop”. The program said,

In this interactive session, Lucy Calkins, Founding Director of the renowned Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, will help you to revisit the essentials of writing workshop. The writing workshop can be the heart of your whole day—a time when you and your kids come together in a vulnerable, cohesive, beautiful learning community. Lucy will review the methods of writing workshop and discuss how to apply those methods as you teach the three kinds of writing—narrative, information, and argument. You’ll leave this session feeling inspired and ready to engage with your students in powerful, in-person writing workshops this fall.

#iareads program, June 18, 2021

Lucy began with a short keynote from the heart. `

And then with a panel of “workshoppers,” Lucy led a conference room through the essentials of writing as well as many opportunities to strengthen and polish our writing workshop practices.

Writing Non-negotiables:

The bottom line conditions for effective writing instruction are, then:
• Writing needs to be taught like any other basic skill, with explicit instruction and ample opportunity for practice.
• Children deserve to write for real purposes, to write the kinds of texts that they see in the world and to write for an audience of readers.
• Writers write to put meaning onto the page. Children invest themselves in their writing when they choose topics that are important to them.
• Children deserve to be explicitly taught how to write.
• Children deserve the opportunity and instruction to cycle through the writing process.
• To write well, children need opportunities to read and to hear texts read, and to read as writers.
• Children need clear goals and frequent feedback.

Calkins, L. A Guide to the Writing Workshop: Intermediate Grades. Heinemann (link)

So much to think about when reflecting on our writing instruction:

daily time to write,

writing on topics of student choice,

remembering that our compliments should last for THIRTY years,

how our expectations build on previous learning

and that We, the adults, also must be readers and writers.

Thank you, #iareads for this huge chunk of time supporting writing!

Sarah Brown Wessling also had two sessions on Friday.

The first was “Fighting Fake Reading with Empathy and Truth-Telling”.

Getting students to read may be one of the greatest challenges teachers have and one of the greatest gifts we can ultimately impart on our students. In cultures where assessment and accountability can be used to rank, sort and shame, there’s another approach to working with resistant and fake readers (which usually are very different students). Enter empathy and truth-telling. Together we’ll learn how to have honest conversations with our students about reading and how those interactions may be the pathway to creating readers.

#iareads, Friday, June 18, 2021

During Sarah’s session I was able to reflect on some of the ideas from Pernille Ripp on Thursday and apply them to HS students. How and when are WE REALLY reading? How do we know? How do we reduce the “stressors” that cause fake reading? How do we build the trust that allows students to be honest?

Time to talk with a partner really helped build community and that “we are not alone in silos” shared beliefs and values.

And our essential question was provocative: What does learning look like? For those ELA teachers using whole class novels, Sarah challenged the audience to consider:

If you’re teaching whole class text:


Why this one?

Why this time?

Does everyone really need to read this?

Sarah’s second session was “We’ve Taught Through COVID, Now What Did We Learn?”

Growing isn’t easy. By that measure we certainly all grew a lot in the last year, teaching through COVID. In this session, we’ll examine some teaching practices that got us through it and what we can learn from them as we prepare for the year ahead. Come ready to react, reflect and recharge.

#iareads, Friday, June 18, 2021

Survival . . . what are the “degrees” of survival? How does it manifest itself in life? This will make you stop and think. Aron Ralston (link here)

How does survival manifest in our teaching lives?

What were we quite happy to let go of?

What do we want to protect?

What did we learn?

Hats off to Sarah for two great learning experiences involving truth, trust and reflection (2010 National Teacher of the Year. link)

It was a fabulous adventure on Friday with Lucy Calkins and Sarah Brown-Wessling at #iareads!

#iareads: Adventure awaits . . .

The Iowa Reading Association Conference opened on Thursday, June 17th with a promise of showers and heat outdoors (100 degrees) and 500 readers and writers indoors.

And what a day!

Keynoters on Day 1 included Ellin Oliver-Keene, Matt Glover, and Denise Fleming. If there was a way to “ease” back into literacy learning, the passions of the speakers and the audience were aligned.

Pernille Ripp . . .

“Who am I as a human being? Who am I as a reader is a part of that.”

These were just a few of the questions posed by Pernille Ripp, author of Passionate Readers. Reading identity is more than just the reading survey at the beginning of the year and also takes dedication as some seventh graders do love to prove their professed “hate of reading”. But maybe if they “hate reading less”, a new milestone is set. Watch for more on “Reader Identity” from Pernille. Readers’ Rights are a big thing with Pernille. Making them a promise to your students is even more important . “What are the reading experiences guaranteed to every child?” is a question worthy of further study. If you are not familiar with her blog, it can be found here. And food for thought . . . aliteracy. How do we combat it if school board members and legislators are not readers? And what if the number is even greater after the pandemic?

Learning with Ellin Oliver-Keene

Ellin Oliver-Keene spoke first on engagement and then on literacy studios the second time. Over and over again, Ellin repeated the need for stories to be shared in order to arrive at the intrinsic level of engagement. The four pillars. You can read more on the Heinemann blog here and on Literacy Lenses after a #G2Great chat here. Her book, Engaging Children, is a MUST read!

What is it like to live an engaged life?

  • Engagement is intoxicating.
  • Our stories are different.
  • Accept, without judgment, where folks are.
  • Active listeners – nodding heads
  • Engagement starts with a story.
  • Add on to those stories as we go through the year.

And so much laughter with Ellin. Loved the story of the “Poppas”.

Continuing on . . . with Matt Glover

Matt Glover gets straight to the heart of his topic every time. It’s such a pleasure to read his work and listen to his passion. His first session included many ideas from his book and the fact that kindergarten students can be engaged in writing and making books on Day One if they have a sense of books. Day One! Podcasts here: genre choice, engagement, and a sample chapter here. A beautiful tribute in blog post format from Travis Crowder after a #G2Great chat here on Literacy Lenses as well.

Matt Glover’s second keynote had many ideas to consider about Conferring with Young Writers in terms of the tools teachers need and the instruction.

Include TEACHING in your conference

NOT reminder,

NOT telling,

NOT correcting.

Matt Glover, #iareads, June 17, 2021

YES to teaching! Conferences have the power to be the most effective teaching . . . but that only works if there is teaching in the conference.

Denise Fleming had two sessions as well. Laughter, cheers, and so much information about her books and her process were shared live and is also available on her website here. Puppets and a fabulous joke about moles!

Text Sets with Dr. Kelli Westmoreland


Access – 

Constant Learning – digital multimodal communication.

   2020 changes in education and learning

   Communication modalities/ need for books AND internet


    21st century skills

    Standards – ELA and Content

Choosing and building text set


   Internet – Pebble go  (next is 3-5)

Implementing text sets       Iowa Core expanded defiinition of texts.

Kiddle – kids search engine . . . Do not search naked mole rats!

Out of time . . . Adventure Awaits on Day Two!

This was just a quick post to collect some of my ideas and resources in order to clear out some brain space for day 2 at #iareads. First up, Lucy Calkins at 7:15 am . . .

See you soon!

#SOL21: Words Matter

It surfaces again.

That dreaded two column comparison

Riddled with half-truths



Do I ignore?

Do I scroll past?

Do I comment?

This chart

I don’t know the source.

It appears often.

Fact Check

Correcting the Balanced Literacy section.

My thoughts.

Responding to the inaccuracies only.

No long, drawn-out arguments.

Here’s the first draft.

Not complete.

Ready for self-conversation.

How much change?

Counting . . . Qualitative? , , , Counting . . .

40 words out of 208 remained.

19% of the words remained.

Physically crossing out the words that were not used.

Silent no more.

What compels you to break your silence and discuss perceived errors? When is it more advantageous to remain silent and gather your ”thoughts”?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Summer






That covers some possible goals.




A park.

A revisit to a favorite location.


Salt water.


My summers always include book clubs of some sort.

Usually multiple book clubs.

My favorite is BookLove Summer Book Club.

Here is the speaker line up

With access for an entire year.

46 speakers and counting.


YES, you

Control your schedule.

Participate at your convenience.

Book packages are sold out, but you can still join online.

Book Love Foundation


Because all the money raised from the Book Club funds classroom libraries.

What are your summer plans? A book club? Which one? What will you read? What will you write?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum.

Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Self-evaluation

I had a plan to construct a 9 x 11 quilt out of 10 inch blocks (raw size 10.5 inches). I had a pattern. I had fabric. 35 different fabrics because I didn’t want a lot of repetition in some of the columns. Column 1 and 9 were organized as planned with just a few shifts to ensure that certain colors were not adjacent. Columns 3 and 7 used fabrics for the most part that were NOT included in columns 1 and 2. Column 5 in the middle was a blended mix of squares combined from column 1 and 3. (After all it’s the middle column!)

Fairly simple. I constructed the squares – each with 7 pieces of fabric. I laid them out on the pool table to check the patterns. I shifted and revised some: flipping end over end broke up a line that wasn’t meant to be or reversed the original pattern. Column 1, after all, consisted of 45 stripes. A veritable vertical feast of colors.

When you view the grid above, it becomes obvious that the placement of the blocks needed to be done in an orderly fashion to match the pattern. But which concerns should receive priority? Blocks with 2 seams, 3 seams, or 4 seams?

I quickly became adept at checking for two or three specific fabrics as my love for them caused them to be included at a higher frequency rate. I knew that checking in advance would keep the dreaded frog away . . .


Rip it!


Not my friend. Physically “revising” by ripping out fabric in a quilt.

Last Tuesday, I needed to make a decision. I knew that two blocks bothered me. How much? Enough to rip out? I couldn’t decide. But they did bother me ENOUGH that I decided to construct the quilt rows in two different pieces so I could manage the fabric more easily ( 90″ in width and 60 ” in length).

Here is what I was facing. Two fabric colors were too similar.

Should I replace them? If yes, with what color or pattern.

It wouldn’t be too obvious to anyone else without a fair amount of studying the pattern.

Here’s where the plan failed in execution.

I waged an internal debate.

Who would notice? Who would care? Would it really be that noticeable to others? Was it good ENOUGH as it was?

Would my nephew notice?

And I instantly thought of other times in my life.

Did I settle for good ENOUGH?

Was this about the final product? Or the process? OR both?

I’m not YET jammed for time, so should I do it “correctly” as defined in my planning?

OR should I “LET IT GO?”

PAUSE. Can you name a time when you have been faced with a similar quandary? What helped you make your decision? Did you have any regrets? How would you evaluate your own QUALITY of work?


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

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Like Paul Harvey

“And now for the rest of the story . . .”

Have you predicted my response to my self-evaluation?

Yes, I spent 90 stinking minutes ripping out and replacing the four fabrics in the block that did not match. I could NOT leave it as it was.

My biggest project to date: Quilt number three, a 90″ by 110″ project.

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