Tag Archives: Slice of Life Story

Spring? Winter?


slice

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

 

My favorite picture from Facebook yesterday was this:

 

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Saturday –

80 degrees and sunny –

Washed the car

Ran errands

Went for a walk

Sunny, bright and cheery

Enjoyed the weather.

 

Sunday –

60 degrees and rainy –

Revised class on moodle

Set up grade book

Selected learning activities

Dreary, dark and gloomy

Sent emails

Made lists.

 

Monday –

33 degrees and snow on the ground –

Dog would not go outside

Warmed up the car

Drug out the winter coat

Found gloves

Cold, bone-chilling and windy

Sent “snowy picture” to kids.

 

Tuesday morning –

Full moon and currently 26 degrees –

Predicted high in the 40’s.

 

Iowa

Weather

Wait a day,

Wait an hour,

Wait a minute,

It WILL change!

 

What will tomorrow’s weather bring?

*

Is your spring weather unpredictable?  Warm?  Sunny?  Meeting your expectations?

 

 

Slice of Life 31: Farewell Finale


 (During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!)  Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge:  StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna and Beth.   More Slice of Life posts can be found at  Two Writing Teachers .

 

Wow!  31 consecutive days of writing is coming ot an end . . . What do I say?  What am I thinking?  What will I do with my free time?

My process:  I set up a folder on my desk top where I saved pictures that I wanted to consider adding to blogs.  I created a word document and listed “Topics that I can blog about.”  I drafted some posts in Word and some directly in WordPress.  I did some “flash drafting.”  I watched “Be Inspired” and the Classroom SOLSC14 for writing tips/ideas.  My routine included drafting my posts the evening before needed and then the morning of posting, I  reviewed, revised and edited.

Some posts seemed to write themselves.  Those were on topics that I had already spent some time thinking about.  Newer topics meant that I nothing written ahead of time.  Those posts took longer to construct unless the topic had been the focus of conversation previously.  Days spent traveling meant that I planned ahead and wrote multiple posts in advance.

 

If you have been following this month, you may recall that I began March with a post about alphabet books and the fact that I like to collect them because they are so neat and tidy.  I also like to collect or organize my work.  Sometimes I organize by color, sometimes I organize by numbers, and sometimes I organize by charts.  So for this finale, I have assembled a table in order to review the “current data.” (Just a little OCD!)

 

Slice Title Content Format (*idea from TWT)
1 March Challenge:  Slice of Life Alphabet as an Organizer Narrative/ Info­
2 ABC’s of Reading Joys of Reading ABC poem
3 Home Defining Home Narr. Quotes and info
4 “Change of Plans” Waiting Narr. Quote and poem
5 Coming Home Celebration Narr. Pictures/poem
6 Bucket List List *poem / Info
7 Exhaustion A “To Do” list poem
8 Studying Student Writing Content – 3rd grade Ts Narrative
9 #EdCampIowa and “Can Do” Prep for Writing Talk Before Writing (Conversation Lines) Info
10 Embrace Change Quote & Dr. Seuss Picture and words= pt.
11 Challenges Typical responses to challenges Info
12 Tenacity Dad and turning point Narrative
13 From Challenges to Turning Points TCRWP and turning points *AGC, Info
14 Road Trip with Dad Moving Home from College Narrative (cum. Poem)C &C
15 Two Truths and a Lie Comparisons:  Dad and Me Reader interaction
16 The Truth and the Answers Comparisons:  Dad and Me Answers / Explan.
17 Family Family Narr. Acrostic poem
18 Support Systems Thanks (metaphor tree) Info
19 Hunger Games Books vs. Movies Info w/ poll
20 Changing Seasons Sports cycles poem
21 6:15 on Friday AM events *Poem
22 Saturday TCRWP and data (19) Info
23 How much reading is enough? Reflective questions Quotes
24 Maximizing Instructional Time Talk and small groups Twitter quotes
25 Are you in the pool? Writing your story Quotes/blogs
26 Try it, You WILL LIKE it! Memory (inner talk) Narrative/inner dialogue
27 Summers Memories *Poem
28 Revising or Editing CCSS.Anchor.W.5 Info
29 :: right now :: Status check Narr. *Verb list/poem
30 Thank You! Thanks Info
31 Farewell Finale Reflection on March Writing  Narr, Info

 

Trying to “label posts” for the final column was difficult.  Writing is not always just “one” form or format.  Multiple forms can be compiled very easily in a blog post format.  I had several goals with this challenge:

1. Write 31 posts                                                                       Done

2. Write some stories / narratives                             11 / 31

3. Write some poetry                                                              11 / 31

4.  Add pictures more frequently to my blog       11 / 31

5.  Continue to grow my own knowledge in writing  (tried something new * 5/31)

6. Continue to support teachers who teach reading/writing     8/3 1

 

Because I did not write any of my goals in a measurable, SMART format, my thoughts about whether I have “met” my goals is purely subjective.  I do believe that just like a story arc, I have moved to a different point as I end March with more frequent and more proficient writing –  a different place than where I began on March 1st.

 

Thanks again for being a part of my writing journey!

I would highly recommend that ALL “Slicers” consider having a twitter presence!  One more communication tool!

 

 

Slice of Life 30: Thank You!


(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!)  Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge:  StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna and Beth.   More Slice of Life posts can be found at  Two Writing Teachers .

thank you languages

 

Kudos to the fabulous team at Two Writing Teachers and all the support that they assembled for this challenge!  Being a part of a community like this makes it “easier” to continue on each day!  Thanks to both Stacey Shubitz, SOLSC14, and Anna Gratz Cockerille, Classroom SOLSC14,  for their great “Be Inspired” ideas!  Thanks to the support team as well.  I had many questions for Elsie and her supportive responses soothed my apprehensions!

I jumped into this challenge because of two twitter friends, Julieanne Harmatz (AKA @jarhartz ) who blogs at “To Read To Write To Be” and  Catherine Flynn (AKA @flynn_catherine who blogs at “Reading to the Core.”   Check out the past slices on the blogs of these two talented ladies!

Thanks to all “Slicers” who read and commented on my blog during the “Slice of Life Challenge.”  Special thanks to those who commented a LOT including:   Julieanne, Tara, Catherine, Anna, Elsie, Stacey and Carol.

Writing every day for a month has helped me continue to work on my own writing.  I will reflect on forms and topics tomorrow in my final post for the month.  It’s possible that I will join “Slice of Life Tuesday” or another regular weekly posting.  I must do some work on my calendar to determine feasibility over the next couple of months as I modify an online graduate course and also plan for summer work.  This month has shown me, again, how important it is to both respond to other bloggers and/or tweet out their links.  The connections in the community are THE BEST!

But most importantly, this Slice of Life Challenge has confirmed my belief that teachers of writing must also be writers!

Again, Thanks!  This has been fun!  This has been great learning!  This has fueled my writing soul!

Slice of Life 28: Revising or Editing


(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!)  Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge:  StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna and Beth.   More Slice of Life posts can be found at  Two Writing Teachers .

What is Revision?  What is Editing?

How would you explain the difference between these two processes?   In the CCSS, they are listed in the same anchor standard: “W.5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.”

What is revising?

Once we define “revising” as literally meaning to “see again,” to look at something from a fresh, critical perspective, we can begin to teach it.  I used to use instruction that included “two stars and a wish” where partners respond with two elements of writing they like and one they wish that could be changed to strengthen the writing work.  It wasn’t specific enough.

How do we make the revision more visible to students?  Revising word choice has seemed easier to model.  “Circle two words in the work that seem repetitive, tired, or not clear.  Brainstorm possible words that would be stronger.  Make a decision to change at least one word in your writing piece.”

What was missing?  

I wondered if the  instruction needed to focus a bit more on the “why” for revision in order to emphasize that the purpose is to make the writing stronger.  Students studying written work  answered:  “Which of these two paragraphs is a stronger description?  Be prepared to state the specific details that are your evidence of strength.”     The before and after paragraphs are side by side here as they were projected on the screen:

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Which would you rather read?  Why?  How did those sentences change?   What does their “revising language” sound like when the students are talking about revising?

I did show the students the following list that I created when I brainstormed some ideas about how this old house looked and the underlined phrases showed where I had used them.

How the house looked?

  • paint peeling
  • cracked windows
  • weeds around the house
  • big house that takes up most of the lot
  • two stories
  • shutters falling off the side of the house

So this revision instruction began with students studying two pieces of writing to see the revising changes and then ended with showing them how a brainstormed list of “how it looked” was used for specific ideas that were added, removed and substituted.  The students loved that they knew the house was “old” without saying the word “kind of like a riddle.”

Student revision is now about more than just moving a sentence around as students talk about changing words or phrases as they move, add, remove or substitute in the revision process.

What is editing? 

Editing has often been explained as what a copy editor does to fix up the writing to get it ready for publication.  The goal is to make the errors so few that the reader’s thinking is not interrupted as he/she reads.  Typical conventions include capitalization, punctuation, spelling and usage.  In the Core those are found in the Language Anchor Standards:

L. 1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

L. 2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

 

How does instruction provide opportunities to “self-edit” in order to strengthen their writing?  Technology makes this easier as squiggles under a word alert me to check the spelling, but students need to be doing the work of “editing”  – not the teacher with a red pen.

How does that instruction work? One way to literally show the difference between revising and editing might be to teach some acronyms as a part of a mini-lesson after a lesson in revising like the one above where students did the work to figure out “how” the revision happened.

I believe this photo came from a #tcrwp friend but I apologize because I cannot credit the owner as I was not saving the source or the date at that time.  Let me know if you recognize the source as I would love to add the correct attribution!

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How are your students strengthening their writing by revising or editing?  Do they “independently” revise or edit?

Slice of Life 23: How much reading is enough?


(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!)  Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge:  StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna and Beth.   More Slice of Life posts can be found at  Two Writing Teachers .

I LOVE to read.  I LOVE reading.  I typically READ just about anything. Reading is my preferred activity over cooking, cleaning, or crafting. I could be considered a voracious reader by some.  I read quickly when I am reading for fun.  I will read almost anything but I do not like vampires, fantasy or science fiction very much.  When I find an author that I like, I devour ALL their texts.  When I find something I really like, I may reread it.  There are times during the year when my reading life seems to suffer.  While writing blog posts every day, I do have less reading time. Is it “okay” that my reading seems to have an ebb and flow?  How much should I be reading? What should I be reading?

I believe that I need to be familiar with authors and texts in the field of literacy.  I have my favorite authors and this year they all deal with loving literacy:  Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts, Donalyn Miller, Penny Kittle, Kylene Beers, Dorothy Barnhouse and Vickie Vinton, Jim Burke, Kelly Gallagher, and all the authors of the fabulous Units of Study in Writing from Teachers College. My reading of YA varies according to the favorites of students in the buildings where I work.

How does reading play out for our students?  How much should they be reading?

In Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller challenges her middle school students to read 40 books per year.  That is basically one book per week, including reading over holidays and school breaks.  A student who has developed those “reading habits” is likely to be successful as they move through life.  In Reading in the Wild, Donalyn is more specific about the “habits” that students need in order to be life-long readers.  Those numbers seem to make sense because a student will “be in the story” and stay connected to the text in those time frames.

For our struggling Middle School and High School students in Second Chance for Reading, I have suggested teachers set 30 books per year as the goal for students.  If teachers have expectations and are carefully monitoring student work, 30 books is ambitious for students who have been less than successful in reading for years. It’s doable, a stretch but yet highly possible if the habit of reading becomes a part of a daily routine.

But is that “good enough” for our children? How long to read a book?

I was following the Twitter stream from the Saturday reunion at Columbia’s Teachers College and several tweets caught my eye. Exactly what books should students be reading and for how long?

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So taking Hatchet and spending a week and a half on it would fit with Donalyn Miller’s goal of 40 books per year. Is this happening?  Are students allowed to read a book like Hatchet in a week and a half?  I believe this also fits with the belief behind CCSS Reading Anchor #10:  “Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently. Yet, it seems like I should be doing more in order to have teachers and students consider the “sheer volume” of what they are reading.

Are there books that should be “whole class” books in grades 3-6?  If yes, what would be the characteristics of such a book? And how “many” of these would a child read during any given year?

I remember working on Language arts curriculum 20 years ago when teachers wanted certain books to be on a “protected list” so teachers in grade 3 would not use a book reserved for grade 4 because then it could not be used for prediction.  But what is the real goal of a “class book”?  If it truly is to have all students explore specific texts, will the class read at the same pace? Is it about the “activities” that accompany the book and its reading? What about a book club approach?

This tweet of a quote from Kelly Gallagher caught my eye:

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So Kelly would agree with Donalyn Miller that students should not be spending forever on a class book.  Dragging a novel out into 9 weeks’ worth of work turns it into a “9 week worksheet”!  That belief has also been espoused by Richard Allington who has said that students need to read “more” in order to be better readers!

Are there some books that every fourth grade student should read?  That would be a great source of conversation for a team of fourth grade teachers.  What literature is that important and that interesting for the students?  The same question would apply for informational text, poetry and drama.  Those decisions can and should be made at a local level.  The caution would be in “not allowing” a whole class text to be the only reading at the time and also not to be drug out as Gallagher’s quote reminds us.

How much should a student read every day?

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The original source of this quote is not listed but think about this for a minute.  To stay on the same level (maintenance), a student needs to read just right books for an hour each day and a common expectation in about 3/4 of a page per minute. So a quick check by a teacher 5 minutes into a silent sustained reading time would suggest that all students had read at least 3 pages.  If a reading log/goal setting page includes the page started, a teacher could quickly move about the room conducting a visual scan.  This would be data that could allow the teacher to form groups to discuss goals and purposes for reading.

The goal would not be public humiliation.  I have used “bribes” for reading – pizzas, food, parties, etc. in order to encourage students to read more.  Sometimes the food begins as the “reason/purpose” for reading until a student becomes “hooked” on reading and then begins to ask for books for gifts!  Students do not need to take quizes to show their understanding of books.  Carefully remove barriers or practices that are “counter-productive” to reading MORE!  Consider how you can help your students be daily readers who will carry that habit over into the summer even when you, the teacher, are not around!

How much are your students reading?  How do you encourage them to set HIGH expectations for their own reading?

Slice of Life 21: 6:15 on a Friday


(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!)  Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge:  StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna and Beth.   More Slice of Life posts can be found at  Two Writing Teachers .

Today’s idea courtesy of Stacey under 3/20/14 “Be Inspired” with original from @MrsDay75 “8:15 on a School Day.”  

6:15 on a Friday

It’s 6:15 am
Tick, tock
Pour a cup of coffee
Tick, tock

*
Check the weather
Tick, tock
Check email
Tick, tock

*
Check my Twitter Stream.
Retweet,
Favorite,
Mention,
Check for slices.
Tick, Tock

*

Grab the carafe
Pour a second cup
Watch the news
Begin my list
Tick, tock.

*
Let the dog out
Feed and water
Check my grocery list
Tonight’s the night
to grocery shop.

*
Start the car.
Hit defrost.
Turn up the heat
Calendar says, “spring”
The day says, “cold.”
Tick, tock.
*
Rinse out coffee cup,
Fill travel mug,
Brush my teeth,
Pack up and GO,
On the road,

Off to school!

Tick, tock!

Slice of Life 20: Changing Seasons


(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!)  Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge:  StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna and Beth.   More Slice of Life posts can be found at  Two Writing Teachers .

              Changing Seasons

A pumpkin

Five pumpkin pushers

A net

A court

A tournament bracket

Forty minutes on the clock.

And it’s one of the “First Four”

Where the team

Has to play its way into the NCAA Tournament.

A senior

Leading scorer

Held to two points

In the first half.

Second leading scorer

In the history of the university.

Second only to his father

Must come alive

During the second half.

Down, down,

Down the floor

Basket.

Down, down,

Down the floor

Basket.

Foul.

Missed opportunities.

Swish.

Who will win?

*

Overtime

Injury

Dayton

Dry spell

No baskets

Many fouls

Dashing hopes

Winner advances to Raleigh.

                                                                  New Day Today

But wait,

Grapplers in the wings

NCAA today in Oklahoma

Winners all ten

Ready and primed

Time to shine!

A new day!

*

Hope,

Might have beens and could have beens erased,

Begin Anew!

163 days til the gridiron opens . . . .

The sports cycle continues!

Do changing sports seasons impact your lives? Or are you more interested in SPRING?

Slice of Life 19: Hunger Games


(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!)  Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge:  StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna and Beth.   More Slice of Life posts can be found at  Two Writing Teachers .

For a bit of entertainment this weekend we went to the show and it was especially great because we were together watching this movie series again!

Stunning visual effects!   Are the characters still believable?  And consistent across the first two movies?  How well did the movie capture the contents of the book?

We both agreed that the book was better than the movie.  As bookaholics we may be a bit biased.  Isn’t the book always better than the movie?

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Hunger Games?

Image

 

 

 

 

Catching Fire?

Image

 

 

 

 

Mockingjay?

 

 

Image

 

 

 

 

A trilogy to debate. Evan says Hunger Games is the best book of the series.  I say Mockingjay is better. Two different votes – neither wins . . .

Let’s see what the readers say!  Which one is truly the best book?  Which movie is your favorite so far?

Please take this quick 3 item survey (no names will be captured)!  

Click on the survey link here.

Which is usually better:  the book or the movie?  Why do you think so?

Slice of Life 18: Support Systems


(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!)  Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge:  StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna and Beth.   More Slice of Life posts can be found at  Two Writing Teachers .

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Exactly how big are the roots that are needed for a healthy tree?

Of course, it will depend on the tree.  What about this image?  The “invisible to the eye” root system of the tree is bigger than the visible part of the tree.  Is that possible in other “root” or “support” systems?

How big is the “support system” or root of a family with a member deployed overseas?

It’s huge!  And the sole purpose of this post is to say:

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In our family, the system is amazing.  Everyone that attended Evan’s wedding last year is a part of that support system.  From the quilts (Aunts Pat Mary and Grandma) to the Kolaches (Aunt Mary again) and even Grandma Twilah who pitched a hand to help out!  The little kids were entertaining at the rehearsal dinner, the wedding, reception and dance!  What a celebration to begin a new life as a couple!

While deployed, there were boxes, cards and thoughtful remembrances that kept the family tree standing despite the distance and the long, lonely days. Thanks to Mom and my brothers and sisters and their families who contributed to those efforts!  To my family who welcomed Julie with open arms to the Marek and Ruth Christmas, “Thanks!” is just one little word with millions of thoughts attached!  You are all greatly appreciated.

To the teacher of my great nephew Benen, “You are amazing!”  His class sent cards for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day.  Evan and Julie recorded a “thank you” which became a part of the school celebration for Veteran’s Day starring Benen!  You’ve never met Evan but yet took the time to honor and recognize a soldier away from home and from a community half-way across the state! Priceless!

To my friends and co-workers, thanks for asking about and listening to my stories about Evan and Julie.  It made the 248 days more bearable.

To Allison, thanks for searching for soldiers to support!  Also thank you for your continued contact and support of both Julie and me as well!

To my fellow “Slicers” who I have YET to meet – special thanks for your comments and thank you’s for Evan’s service.  Simply taking the time to comment is/was greatly appreciated!

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It’s hard to find words to say “Thank You” to my son for his service, sacrifice and patriotism, but there are many others that I also need to thank!

The real hero who must be recognized is Evan’s wife, Julie.  What a trooper!  Not fun to have a husband of two months shipped overseas.  Lots of love, laughter and tears did help you through those long months of an overseas deployment! (and frequent conversations with the dogs, Toby Ryan and Millie Ann!) Julie won the prize for the best “duct tape” and decorated boxes!

And then the shining stars behind Julie every step of the way – her parents, John and Debbie; and her sisters, Melissa and Keri and all their families.  Julie’s parents were there to see Evan off and to see him safely home.  Keri, Alma and Melissa also were there for the celebratory homecoming.  Aunt Lisa, Andy and Matthew were also there for the homecoming dinner and tons of support.  Your love is visible in all your actions and words.

Like the tree roots there are many invisible supports as well: the FRG groups, the prayers at churches across the country and many other community groups that routinely support  deployed service member’s families.

With my deepest gratitude!

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and my sincerest apologies for anyone that I left out!  (I blame “my increasing age” and “failing memory”!)  As well as my thanks to any readers who are at present or who in the past have been part of a soldier’s support systems!

With this metaphor, is it possible for a person to be both a branch on the tree and a part of the root or support system?  What do you think?  (Add your thoughts to the comments!)

Slice of Life 17: Family


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My son Evan, his wife Julie and me – all thankful to have him home after his nine month deployment.

This has been a fun weekend With the kids.  It went by very quickly, 48 hours of family, food, movie, and shopping.

fun

altogether

mom and kids

important

life events adding to our

yesterdays!

(During March, I am blogging daily as a part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!)

Special thanks to the hosts of the Slice of Life Challenge:  StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna, and Beth.   More Slice of Life posts can be found at  Two Writing Teachers .

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