Tag Archives: driving

#SOL18: Uncertainty

Out of the corner of my eye, flashing colors.

As I emerge from the underpass, I see it again, flashing lights in my rear view mirror.

Flashing red and blue, headed east.

“Hmmm, will I soon see them again, pulling out from the merging lane?” I wonder to myself.

I sit a little straighter, I tap the mirror to better view the lanes behind me, and I check the current traffic patterns.  I see no sign that anyone else has noticed.  Maybe it’s just my awareness of where that road came from, a town of approximately 6,000 and a possible destination ahead about 30 miles, a town with a university hospital, a VA hospital, a private hospital and a world-renown children’s hospital.

Within seconds, my mind is back on possibilities and scenarios.

I have identified it as an ambulance by both the name and the shape of the vehicle.  Flashing red and blue lights mean emergency.  I don’t know the destination.

And yet, I know that our paths are intersecting, because I can now see the lights on the merging lane behind me.

And debate is my focus:

“It’s a four lane highway with a median.  The ambulance is traveling the same way I am.  It should be even with me shortly.

Do I still pull off the shoulder of the road like I learned decades ago in drivers’ education class?”

I look around.

Some cars are passing others in the left lane.

Some are merging into the right lane.

Some have blinkers on, marking the first step to moving over to the right.

I turn on my blinker and slow.

I pull onto the shoulder and I count:
















and sixteen vehicles continue on past me.

And then the ambulance goes past.

I look ahead.

I look back.

Three cars move to the left lane.

The right lane is clear.

I signal.

I pull back onto the road.

As I accelerate into the flow of traffic I see the ambulance lights a mile ahead of me.

And curious me

I wonder,

“Do we not pull off the side of the road for an ambulance?”

I will have to consult the DMV via The Google.


What is required?

What is the right thing to do?

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

9:20 am  https://iowadot.gov/mvd/driverslicense/dlmanual/section2.pdf  – page 19

“Emergency Vehicles
You must yield the right-of-way to a police vehicle, fire engine,
ambulance or other emergency vehicle using a siren or
air horn, and a red or blue flashing light. Pull over to the right
edge of the road, or as near to the right as possible, when
you see or hear an emergency vehicle approaching from
any direction. F o l l o w  a n y instructions given over the
e m e r g e n c y vehicle’s loudspeaker.

If you are in an intersection, drive through the intersection
before you pull over. However, if you are on a street or highway
separated by a median strip and the emergency vehicle
is on the other side, you do not have to stop. You must stay
at least 500 feet behind any emergency vehicle using lights
and sirens on its way to an emergency.”

#DigiLitSunday: Automaticity

As many of you  know, this has been a driving summer . . .








Florida, Florida, Florida, Florida (it’s a long way from the top to the bottom)

and back plus


Not commuter miles but trips that included LONG days.

So think about this driving analogy.


Free from Pixabay; Retrieved 7.9.17

My trip to Sioux City today.


What route?

When to stop / break / gas?

Can I beat the GPS arrival time?


By Des Moines, I had gained three minutes according to the GPS.

And then semi-trucks passing semi-trucks going uphill . . .  slowed both lanes down.

And then there was road construction with one lane of traffic and a reduced speed limit of 55 mph.

Results (but I REALLY wanted this to be Synthesis)

Exploring alternate routes.

Considering overall rates of travel and the amount of travel in both lanes.

Learning new vocabulary

  • Rest Stop – Parking Only
  • Rest Stop – Modern
  • Rest Stop with Internet Access (including symbols for phone, Vending Machines and Camper Dump Stations

So the short part of this is that I arrived one minute before my GPS said and my route, although with some adjustments, was successfully completed.

What if ? ? ?

A. What if I had to record notes

Before the trip?

During the trip?

After the trip?

B.  I had to record the skills I had mastered



Processes? (Hat tip to Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson for that idea after a Voxer #G2Great conversation)

Have you made the inference about where this is headed? . . .  

Hint – Reread Choices A and B

And Oh, My Goodness! 

I forgot the Planning that happened prior to the trip including checking for my registration, insurance card, and having the car serviced (oil change & tire rotation) prior to the trip as well as googling the distance from point A and B so I could begin to draft the specifics.

All of these little details matter when driving a motor vehicle.  There are big details that have life or death consequences like safely managing a vehicle, keeping it in the right lane, accelerating and decelerating with traffic flow, smooth lane changes WITH a turn signal, safe distances between vehicles, and paying attention to merging lanes, road signs, and . . .

I’m lucky because I’ve been driving for over four decades and I had a refresher when my son would point out driving errors while he was in a driver’s education course.  Your driving experience may include more total miles or more city miles than me.  That’s a “number” or data-based comparison.  But what about “quality”?

In my opinion it all boils down to “my confidence in my driving abilities” because I have experienced a wide variety of situations that have contributed to the automaticity of my driving habits and patterns that also allow me to be responsive and THINK when I must make “in the second/minute” adjustments.

I very deliberately chose this comparison because this “automaticity” is what we want for our students in reading.







How much time does this take?  

How will we measure this success?  

WHEN will a reader be successful?

And what does this mean for TEACHERS, the adults in the classroom?  

They must be equally prepared, confident, and ready for challenges.

That is why I am in several book clubs this summer.  Probably too many.  But I am pushing my own Planning, Questioning, Reflecting and Synthesizing especially as I work through professional books.

I wrote about the beginning of #CyberPD and Vicki Vinton’s Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading here.  This thinking fits with a Facebook and Twitter study of Disrupting Thinking by authors Kylene Beers and Bob Probst.  Margaret Simon wrote about both of those today here.  As discussed at the last #G2Great chat with Linda Rief, Reading is about the meaning that the reader understands as a result of his/her transaction with the text. Reading is NOT extracting factoids.

Without spending a great deal more words, I believe that when students can and do





on their own (P,Q,R,S) in real authentic work (not just school work), they WILL BE Skilled, Competent, Strategic, Confident, and Experienced Readers!

What do you do daily to help students “transact” with text in the form of stories, books, poetry, nonfiction, art works, video, and audio?  

How will you know when students have reached automaticity?   

How will you know your students are skilled, competent, strategic, confident and experienced readers?

#DigiLitSunday:  More posts from Margaret Simon and Reflections on the Teche.





#SOL16: March Challenge 26 – The Dance

The Dance

The approach

One moves forward

One waits patiently

Another passes

And then another.

No rush.

Patience is a virtue,

Always checking!

To the left

And behind

With a rhythm

Of a well-practiced dance.

No rush.

Many colors,

Many sizes,

Many shapes and

From many locations.

A continuous dance.

No rush.

Everyone moves to the left and slows a wee bit

Upon sighting the flashing colorful lights on the right.

Poor red Ford 150 from Tennessee,

Today speed brought you to a stop.

Your dance was out of sync and you were caught.

No rush.

At what point were you 100% certain that you understood the events?

What “helped you”understand?

How do you make certain that your students “Do the work”?


Process/ Goals:

I drive a lot for work and 8-9 hours to visit the kids.  Many drivers and fellow travelers are kind, considerate folks.  However, not all.  I couldn’t resist the chuckle when this obnoxious driver met his fate.  It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person. My guess was that he was driving at least 20 miles over the posted speed limit as I was passed like I was standing still.  I began with the process/goals and then backed up to the top and just typed.  Once I found the repeating line, this post wrote itself. My goal was to never explicitly say  “A red Ford 150 was pulled over by the highway patrol for speeeding.” or “Everyone was passing poor-slow-driving me!” I deliberately wanted my readers to use prior knowledge and inferences to make accurate predictions about the situation.

How did you do?


slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  It’s the March Slice of Life Challenge; posts are DAILY!

#SOL15: Novice Driver


Smoke billowed out from the edges of the hood. Wait, is that smoke?  Is that steam?  Doesn’t matter . . . it’s BIG TROUBLE!   No panic.  After all, this wasn’t a movie.  Also, not reality TV.

I had landed with a thud.  No exploding air bags.  They hadn’t been invented yet.  Seat belts?  I don’t remember unfastening them.  Probably not required on a car that had been manufactured in the 60’s and became our second car in the 70s.  A “diner” – big, heavy, old.  Not too dinged up – definitely bought for its durability.

I was driving along, minding my own business, when I discovered I was behind a road grader.  There was that hump of dirt piled up about eight inches high in the center of the road.  For you city slickers, it’s a rock road.  We’re in the country.  (And there were probably only two roads in Iowa that had four lanes. Just sayin’)  How lucky could I be?  The road grader was out, blading the road in the rain.

Car coming towards me.  I slowly eased my car over that hump of dirt that I had been straddling.  Old car. No danger of dragging bottom.  Old diner cars had a clearance like current all-wheel drive cars. Ok, that wasn’t too bad.  Wipers on.  Wait, do I turn the lights on in the day time when it’s raining?  Its awfully dark!

I wasn’t too sure where I was on my half of the road.

It HAD been raining ALL morning.  I went to work at my regular time – 8:00 but they said, “Come back at noon.  We’ll see if it’s still raining and decide what to have you do.”

It was DAY 2 of having my own driver’s license so I was 16 – barely.  I had over three hours to kill.  I was dressed for work.  I wasn’t going anywhere dressed like that.  I had 3 and ½ hours to kill before I had to go back to work.

My plan, due to lack of anywhere else to go or anything else to do (no books in the car), was to go home.  Home was seven and ½ miles north of the Northrup King plant. I could kill time at home before going back to work at noon to see what weather and work would allow.

My half of the road was soft, soggy, and felt like it had little rock.  Dark. Muddy.  And still raining. Not fun.

Today as I try to remember all the details, I don’t remember ever having driven in rain before.  I also don’t remember ever driving much before this.  Back to the action.

And then my stomach hit my toes.  The rear end of the car was sliding toward the ditch.  Mud was sucking at the tires. It was pulling me into the black hole.

Do I steer into this sliding mess? Out?  No time for thoughts as I was already landing with a loud CRUNCH with an undertone of a SCRAPING noise.


I hadn’t had typing yet.  I really didn’t know what those symbols meant.  But I’m sure I said a word or two that I wasn’t supposed to even know. (At this stage of life, I think I had heard my mom say “sh**” once.  But as a farm girl, I wasn’t totally ignorant.  Just because I hadn’t said the words, didn’t mean that I hadn’t heard them.)

So the car is in a ditch. Smoke or steam is rolling out of the hood.  No engine noise but maybe just a bit of a gurgling sound.

It’s pre-historic times.

The folks that invented cell phones haven’t even been born yet.

(Unimaginable for some of you youngsters!)

What to do?

It’s raining. A sixteen year old girl, dressed for “detasseling corn”, in a ditch alongside a rock road in the middle of nowhere Iowa.

Four miles from home doesn’t really mean relatives are nearby.

I don’t even know who lives in the house that I can see.  There are no kids that get on the bus at that house.  Clueless.  Alone. Wet. Cranky. Anxious!

I wonder if I can just sit in the car until someone comes along. . . That doesn’t seem like much of a solution. I could be sitting here a long time!

I talk myself into getting wet AGAIN.  I do have a raincoat but that will only cover part of me.  I grab my work shoes and put them on.  They are already dirty. A bit of mud won’t hurt them.

I trudge to the house.  By the time I start up the sidewalk,  I have about 6 inches of mud and clay attached to my shoes.  I detour to walk through the grass.  I had wiped as much mud as possible off my shoes just by dragging them across the grass in the yard.

I knock on the door, introduce myself, and ask them to call my parents (I’m not calling – I’m not breaking the bad news!).

I stand on their porch.

But I was a mess.  Plaids and polka dots and colors that didn’t match.  Old clothes that would be tossed at the end of detasselling season.  After all, they had already been handed down from my cousin to my sister, back to another cousin, to her sister and then to me. . . oh, lucky ole me!  The fifth person to wear these clothes!

The lady at the house comes back and tells me that my dad said to wait for him here.

I wait miserably.  Cold. Tired. And yes, scared.  I’ve had my license for less than two days and I’ve already wrecked the car.  I’m introuble!

My dad drives by in the truck.  He goes past the car, on down to the next house, pulls in the driveway and turns around.  Of course, the road grader has come by and completely removed the hump from the middle of the road.  The tire tracks look like someone just drove off the road into the ditch.  A little swervy, but not much. Thanks a lot, Mr. Road Grader Man!

Dad pulls up next to the car in the ditch.  He walks around the car, then opens the driver’s door, and pulls out my purse.

Hmmm. . . I wonder what that means.

He pulls up to the house, waits on me to get in, and then slams the truck into gear.  He doesn’t say a word.  ME either.  Silence is perfect.

Half a mile from home he says, “Why didn’t you just stay in town if you had to go back at noon?”

“Because I thought I would get in trouble if I just stayed in town.  None of my friends detassel.  Where was I supposed to go?”

No answer.

When we went in our house, after shedding muddy shoes and boots, Mom asked, “How is it?” and I just walked on to my room, closing the door gently.

Dad said, “She landed on a cement culvert. The radiator is done. The block is cracked.  The car will probably be totaled.”

Second day of driving. . . Truth be told – second morning of driving . . .less than 48 hours after getting my license. . . totaled car!

When has “being a novice” caused you problems?

Do you remember your first car accident?  Does it still cause that sick feeling in your stomach?

How do we learn to deal with adversity?

I, obviously, didn’t give up driving for the rest of my life!

As I was driving today, I retold this story to myself several times and wondered about connections between this story and school. How do we provide support when novice students need it?  And YET, how and when do we also  stay out of the way so that learning occurs as a result of the situation?


Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy,Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 


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