Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Living a Writing Life #TWTBlog #EDtime2wrt


After reading Kathleen's post entitled Should Educators Be Writers? multiple times, I knew that I had to share it with my colleagues full well knowing that it may make many teachers ... well, uncomfortable.   It is scary to put yourself out there. To put your words to the page. To hit the orange publish button. Without regret.  Or fear.  Actually living that writing life.  I know.  I have been there.  I'm still living it now.

I composed the following email today to share in the joy of being a teacher-writer and walking the walk that we expect our students to walk.  We want our students to be brave and grow as writers -- and we need to do the same right beside them.

Don't get me wrong ... I was nervous pressing that send button.  I read over the email once.  Delete this.  Change that.  I read it over again.  Delete that.  Change this.

I took a deep breath and clicked send ...  We'll see what happens!  Thanks Kathleen and the whole TWT team!


Hello Teachers and Staff!

As we swim in the waters of the reading and writing workshop, I thought this was a great message to share with you and encourage you as we "just keep swimming".  At Frost, we have discussed the power of being teacher-readers, sharing our reading lives with our students, and igniting that passion for reading ... through us and the glorious books we read and share every day.

Now, let's talk about writing.  We also need to live the life of a writer to reach and teach our writers.  We need to take notice of the world around us.  Capture stories in our notebook.  Allow for a story to unfold, be told and shared -- with the world of our students and perhaps beyond!

Please take a couple minutes this week to read the blog post by Kathleen Neagle Sokoloski from the Two Writing Teachers.  Also, I encourage you to read the comments!  So motivating and encouraging!  It's hard to think of doing "one more thing," but this isn't about adding it to the to-do list.  It's about being a reader and writer -- as it was stated by many well-respected educators, "It's our job."  (I hope you also read Donalyn Miller's post as well: "Getting on the Bus".)

I am passionate about writing (a little known secret ... shhhh).  I have a blog and participate in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Writing each Tuesday.  I have been writing publicly for over five years -- just little slices of my life at home and at school to practice and live the life of a writer.  Yes, it scary. Yes, some of it is crap.  Yes, I continue to write.  Many colleagues have already joined me in this writing endeavor -- even my Mom blogs!  

If you are interested in learning more about the Slice of Life or starting a blog and living the life of a writer, let me know!  Yes, writing feels like it should be private, but it is so much more gratifying when your stories are shared and you grow in your confidence as a writer.  The Two Writing Teachers Team have created a welcoming community of writers that meet every Tuesday online during the year and every day in March for the Slice of Life Story Challenge. They even host a Slice of Life Story Challenge for Classrooms too!  That's how habits are formed -- writing every day!  

Happy reading and writing!


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

{sorry for the interruption} #sol16

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

Yesterday, as M. and I walked through the Target parking lot after picking up a new prescription for her ear infection, I noticed a man talking to two women.  I remember thinking it appeared strange, but also thought that perhaps they knew each other and happened to run into each other in the parking lot.

We continued on our way to our car.  I loaded up the back of the minivan with some essential groceries.  M. climbed up in her seat.  I closed the back end, pushed the cart to the return cart corral, and decided to give M. her first dose of medicine.  I opened the back end, grabbed her prescription, and followed the directions on the bottle.

As she started sipping her medicine, a man appeared and startled me in my little world.  It was the same man I saw talking to the other women.  My heart raced.  He remained a good 10 feet away as I stood by the side door next to my daughter questioning what I should do.

"I'm sorry for the interruption, but I need some help.  I'm really embarrassed to be asking, but ..." and he proceeded to ramble about his grandmother's car in need of repair and AAA and getting back home ... over 45 minutes away.

I had a difficult time following his story.  I swallowed hard wondering how I could help.  I remember thinking, "There was no way I am letting this man in my car."

"So, how can I help you?" I interrupted.

"I called a local cab company and it will cost me $44 to make it home." I let out a huge sigh of relief.  "I only need $7.50.  Again I'm really embarrassed that I have to ask for money ..."

I was so relieved that he was only requesting money.  I could spare a couple dollars, if I had any.  I usually don't carry any cash.

"I don't have a lot of cash," I told him as I grabbed my wallet and spotted a five and ten dollar bill.  I thought the five, but snagged the ten and handed it to him quickly.

"Thank you so much.  I can make it home now," he said as he shook my hand with his thick, black winter glove, pulled out his dated flip cell phone, and walked away.

I hopped in the car and drove off, eyeing the man in the rear view mirror.  It appeared he was calling the taxi cab company for a ride.  Or was he looking for another victim?  I wondered if I should have waited to give M. her medicine.

"Mommy, what happened to that man's car?" M. asked.

"Honestly, I'm not sure.  But sometimes, if you can, you have to help others in need."

I don't know if the man was being honest.  I prayed as we drove away that he would use the money wisely, but those doubts crept in, wondering if I was just scammed out of $10 and briefly feared the man's motives.  I mean, couldn't he use a credit card?  In the moment, I wasn't about to ask.  I was listening with my heart.

As I was talking with M. about what had happened, I interrupted my own thoughts, "Oh, I wish I would have told him to pay it forward."

That's all I can hope for -- that this man was being honest.  Or will I see him scouring another parking lot soon ...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

{imagination} #sol16

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

The other day I was about to recycle an empty box and my daughter quickly requested it for a project. How could I say no?

The "project" was collaboratively created between my two five year old girls.

Our cat, CJ, received a Hex Bug in her Christmas stocking ... it was confiscated by my girls and they designed a new house for the little battery operated critter.

The talking and thinking and sharing and trying and trying again and creating and wondering and questioning went on and on for over an hour.  This project was an opportunity for my girls to be creative without limits or rules. They only needed a little glue, tape, scissors, and markers.

I was truly amazed at their little Hex Bug home including so much detail.  A fireplace, a teddy bear in bed with a fold up blanket, a chimney (not near the fireplace ... ok, we can work on that detail), a letter in the mail slot, a door mat, pictures on the wall --

"How did you ever think of this?" I asked after they gave me the tour of the new house.

"You just need a little imagination, Mom," M. told me in her imagination expert voice.

And I smiled knowing she was right.  We all need to use a little imagination in life.  Imagine all the possibilities.


I wonder what these two girls will be designing next ...

This reminded me of an article I read last summer Love Letters: 6 Essential Actions That Support Growth by Julie Wright. (Published on the Heinemann blog/website.)  One of the essential actions that supports growth is design.  Here is what Julie wrote about designing:
Action 3: Design 
Being curious about something drives us to take a closer look. Curiosity often leads us to find clarity and urgency in ways that compel us to create. Many times, feeding our inquiry gives us the motivation and purpose for designing something. When we design something, we imagine what could be, which can lead us to create something new for the world. Design gives us this sense of never being done. It requires being okay with the notion that we may need to make several attempts before it begins to take shape or make sense. Making something, especially collaboratively, creates buy-in; we take ownership. This is true for all learners, young and old. Making something is contagious—once we’ve been given the license to do so, the natural tendency is to want to keep doing it. That makes designing naturally transferrable.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

{just try} #sol16

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

To write or not to write?  
That is the question.  
Well, as you can see. 
I'm writing.  
I have to.  
It's in my blood 
and nature to write 
a little slice of life 
every Tuesday.

But what to write?  
That's another question.  
I have stories.  
I know I have moments 
to capture into words 
that are just waiting to be told.

But when to write? 
That's an important question.  
I feel at times 
my life is full 
to the max.  
I'm spinning 
all the plates 
trying to keep 
everything and 
everyone going.

But what if I don't write? 
That is the guilty question.  
I feel it.  I miss it.  
I miss connecting 
and being a part of 
this amazing community of writers.

But what if I just try?  
Now THAT is the answer.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

{that one little word} #sol16

Slice of Life is hosted at the Two Writing Teachers
Join in and share a slice of your life. 

Happy New Year! Happy everything!  I love the excitement that a new year brings -- a new beginning, a fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to try again.  January rolls around and my hopes and dreams explode with new opportunities.  

I also love the idea of inviting a little word into my life.  One little word that I can focus my thoughts around throughout the year.  One little word that I say daily and visibly display as a constant reminder.  One little word that provides positive hope, energy, and enthusiasm.  One little word that brings me peace in believing.  

Play. Faith. Strength. Breathe.  All words that chose me at the right time ... to allow me to live a richer, fuller life.  All that are now a part of who I am and serve as my reminder in the moment.

{Created with VanillaPen}

This is my one little word for 2016.  Happy.  I spent a year of taking lots of deep breaths and this year I'm ready to exhale with happiness.  I'm a happy person, but I tend to take life too seriously. (No, really.)  And focus on what needs to be accomplished. (Let's go.)  And sometimes I forget to find my happy in the moments of life.

This word crossed my mind as a possibility.  Then within a day I was inundated with this word everywhere I turned: emails, letters, cards, tweets, songs, just everywhere!  I smiled knowing that this word was screaming and waving, "Pick me!" and those goosebumps let me know:  Happy is my focus for the year.  Finding the happiness in each moment.  Focusing on being content, lighthearted, joyful, even sunny!

Happy is my one little word.  Happy everything!

And am I so happy that I'm right here sharing my one little word with you right now. 

A sign already sitting on my mantle as my reminder.