A Well-Worn Song #sol20

Yesterday, Lanny Ball shared, Margaret Simon’s, author of Bayou Song: Creative Explorations of the South Louisiana Landscape (University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2018), blog where she offers a format that leans on creativity and word-play.  I couldn’t resist her invitation to play with poetry. This is Slice Challenge, Day 25. 

A Well-Worn Song #sol20

March 24, 2020

I am…

an early morning-rising

dog-walking

kitchen-experimenting

cookie-baking

bed-making

housework-avoiding

book-devouring

idea-connecting

note-taking

tradition-keeping

problem-solving

project-starting

forever-evolving

sort of human

Dear Me #sol20

Day 22 I decided to write a letter to the first person that needs encouraging me.  Like Clare said,  I am giving myself the oxygen first.  Here I am writing in the company of all my dear slicers in the comfort of Two Writing Teachers.  This is day 23 of the 31 day writing challenge.

Dear Me #sol20

March 23, 2020

I know you feel adrift right now, like your best ideas as a coach have always been built on connections and moments.  These things are not present in their familiar forms right now.  So… now is the time to create some new forms of connections and moments.

Spend the day today creating a creative space, a warm space.  Consider what each grade level, each teacher might need, might enjoy, might treasure and start doing what you do… making lists.  While you’re making a list, make sure you make a list of all the things you brought home from the literacy center.  You’re going to go back there and you’ll want all these things to pack up and go too.

It’s Monday, so don’t forget your Monday flowers and your message teacup,  some music, work(ish) clothes (well from the top up at least).  Maybe this will magically transform this remote space to be a little more like the missed space.

Make some movies today.  You can always throw them away… or send them.  Create a padlet, a screencast, a flip grid.  Now’s the time to learn all the things.  You won’t have to use them forever.

Work actual work hours… no less and no more.  You can still walk the dog and have lunch in your kitchen and thank goodness take all the breaks for personal business that you want.

So I know you feel adrift, but drop anchor for now.  They know where you are and how to find you.  They will… they will.

Stay well,

Me

Room 101 #sol20

I write in the beloved company of my slicing community at Two Writing Teachers.  This year our March Daily Slice Challenge has been precious to our connection.  Today I am inspired by Betsy Hubbard and narrative poem, Gate A-4 by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Room 101 #sol20

March 21, 2020

I make my way down to my ‘new’ workspace

not quite the same as

my former workspace

waiting there for me to return

return I did yesterday to gather…

what I might need for a future

I’m struggling to believe

The parking lot is empty when I arrive

That is not so strange

the early arrival a habit of mine

I walk down the hall

but today I seem to notice each landmark

your door is there, I pause.

the inexplicable box

of tangrams still a doorstop

your desk is there,

The red book shelf left over from an earlier memory

but you are not

I feel your absence heavy in the space

this week

we talked on the phone

for two hours,

the connection snapping between us

this morning

we would have been

making our pilgrimage to New York

Right now we would have been

in the dark, warm car

settling in to our long journey

planning our day

mapping what coffee place in CT

we will stop at

We would revel in our connection

in our togetherness

in our history

in our rituals

in our practice

The other day you reminded me

that we are still connected

so I send a wish

through your darkened doorway

to be connected

In this disconnection

Pace #sol20

Screen Shot 2020-03-20 at 7.42.51 AMPace #sol20

March 20, 2020

After a week of not talking to anyone outside my immediate family and only communicating via comments, texts, and tweets,  yesterday was a lot.

I had two meetings yesterday via the internet. One a district wide meeting where our superintendent was stellar.  She was calm, she was patient.  She answer questions for over an hour after her prepared statement.  While I only saw her, I felt the presence of our nearly 800 community members.  It was powerful.

That meeting was followed by a meeting with my literacy specialist team.  It’s great to see them and they all look well.  We are honest with each other and that’s so helpful.  We talked over our new directive, what it might mean and how we can support each other to provide support to our teaching teams and the intervention teams.  We were all tired at the end.  It’s a lot for one day.

I spent the rest of the day, talking to teachers, looking at resources,  going to a webinar, planning what I’ll pick up in the small window I have today to go to school and it was five before I realized it.   I kept going.  At 6:30,  I stopped at made dinner.  I kept reading texts and tweets until I got to a twitter discussion at 8:30 p.m.

That’s when I realized that I was doing that thing that others had warned me about, working and working and working.  I didn’t go outside yesterday.  I didn’t do a house project.  I just worked.

Today is shaping up to be more of the same.  I have a webinar at 8, going to school to pick up at 9, dropping some things off for teachers.  Then I have a training at 12 and a meeting with the principals and literacy specialists at 2:30…  Ok,  I am seriously going to have to make myself a self care schedule.

So in my spare time today,  I’m going to create a creative space because I also hear I have to think about what’s behind me in online connections.  Stay tuned for photos of that because my office is where I drop things I can’t part with.

I leave you with advice from my laptop keypad deck … Try easier and Be the one that decides to go for it.  Seem incongruous, but maybe not.

 

I’m writing alongside my Two Writing Teachers Slice Community every day for this month of March.  Today is day 20.  My writing PLN is my inspiration, my motivation, and my comfort.  

After That… A List #sol20

I’m writing along with my slice community at Two Writing Teachers every day during the month of March and Tuesdays year round.  I am inspired today, day 19, by Midwestern Heart in Dixie’s Before That: Wednesday Edition.  She can do a lot in a day. 

After That… #sol20

March 19, 2020

Up way predawn this morning.  Lily doesn’t seem to know that we are still on ‘snow day’ schedule today.  Took Lily for a walk.  The pavement was wet and it was drizzling.  No beautiful stars and moon this morning.  Yesterday’s was so spectacular.  Same sniffs, we picked up the paper on our way in.  So dark outside this morning.

After that, special dog food mix, downstairs to fill the dog bowl, just 1/2 cup.  She’s on a better diet than I am.  Then a little wet food from the refrigerator mixed in, her joint mineral powder and fish oil for her allergies. Clean water.

After that, I read through the text chain from last night’s chat with the other literacy specialist. We’re trying to figure out the changes that are coming in effect early next week for enrichment.  This is going to include intervention still, so it’s a lot to think about.

After that, I read through the 8-10 emails that came through after I went to bed last night.  Have heard from many of the eleven intervention team members.  Still need to hear from four of them.  I’m wondering about that this morning, but it’s still predawn.

After that,  I send a few emails.  I hope these people don’t have their phone near them in bed or their alerts on…  Organize emails in a new folder called distance learning.  Notice that I have over eighty emails in my mailbox.  I like to keep it to less than ten…

After that, I make a spreadsheet of the students receiving intervention.  I wonder again if the coordinators know how many kiddos this really is.  The team sent me the names and the student goals overnight.  One of them already has plans ready.

After that,  Bob scoots next to me to get his shoes from under the dining room table.  I left my shoes in your office.  Don’t want to use my actual office because it’s in the basement and I can’t look out the window in there, it’s too high.

After that,  I make a cup of coffee in my This is Going Well cup.  Wishful thinking perhaps, I do think we’ll get this together.  I smile again at our secretary emailing me right away last night to offer a hand.

After that,  Bob checks in to ask if I’m going into school today.  He interjects some news from the world.  I notice that our neighbor is driving out of their driveway.  I wonder if they are taking advantage of the early grocery hours that start today.

It’s 6 a.m.  now.  Everything I tell you about after that now is just hopeful thinking, but the list includes:

  • making a temporary plan for intervention at each grade
  • watching a video about zoom
  • reading through the district documents I received late yesterday
  • planning on taking a shower and possibly using makeup since I’ll be on view online today
  • Attending two meetings virtually; probably more

What’s that saying?  The people who get things done are the ones that do things one thing at a time.

 

 

Tuesday Morning Collaboration #sol20

Today I write in isolation, but not alone.  I write in the March Slice of Life Challenge, writing each day in March with my fellow writers under the guidance of Two Writing Teachers.  You can still join us, writing is healing and communal.  If you’re reading this, check out this blog about what to do right now. Today I’m inspired by the meeting I should be having right now, but am not…

Tuesday Morning Collaboration #sol20

March 17, 2020

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.   I hope you’re still sleeping, but I’m thinking of you. If we were together, I would have probably brought some soda bread and green napkins.  We would have ‘coffee’.  Well, A. would have had a yeti of tea and M. would have had a iced coffee from Dunkin’.  A. would close the door and say good morning.  She might be empty handed.   Sometimes she waits for a good idea and then writes it on a stickie with a borrowed pen.  M. would open her fancy notebook, 1/2 sized. Her flair color matching her mood or hoped-for mood.  We’d huddle and we smile at each other.  How are you doing? 

I’d have a list in my notebook of things I wanted to talk over with you.  Hopefully, I’d hesitate to see if you had something in mind.  Most times you do.  I’d have my units on the table, my phone, my notebook, my coffee.  Sometimes I don’t write in my notebook until you go away.  Sometimes I draw something in there or on a stickie to illustrate a thought or an idea.  Today I have a few things I want to talk over in this virtual space. What I don’t want to talk over is the reality and uncertainty of our current situation.  So I’m going to ignore it… for now.

Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 7.50.23 AMFirst, I’m excited by the work A. has been doing with the ‘narrative task’ and creative writing in her room.  She’s excited too.  I’m sure she’s told you about it, but can we just talk about how it works and how we might expand it and will it work again next year.  I do love these books we chose for the Book Madness… I want to get the other Boston Marathon title.  Wait, back to the idea.  She began with Girl Running, taking four scenes after she had read and loved it with her class and let them ‘blow up’ the scene.  I wish I had some samples of her students’ writing, but I kept the photo copies of the spaces where she stopped.  I would stop at those pages and talk about why they are good.  Yes, they do illustrate the story arc. What a strong reinforcement!  She chose the rising action where Bobbie was crouching behind the forsythia right before she joined the race.  Then she chose the place where she revealed she was a woman runner.  We probably look these over and talk about presenting them to the students.  Would we ask them where this was on the story arc?  Would we let everyone pick the place where they want to write?  What guidance might we add to the narrative task?  What if we paired this book again for the compare and contrast using Her Fearless Run or The Girl Who Ran.  I’ll bring out Drawn Together. I hear that this book is a student favorite.  This book requires some interpretation by the students.  I want to hear what your students were thinking.  A. used this book as well.  I wasn’t there for this lesson.  We might look through the book together and think about how to present it.

I’ll mention how the newer teachers are struggling with the MCAS unit I drafted.  I will admit that some of it is my fault.  It needs some revision between the calendar and the day-to-day.  I’ll talk about some coaching I’ve done there and what I hope to do in the future.

Our time’s getting short but I want to share this idea that I saw on twitter. Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 8.10.55 AM Did you see that retweet I posted about using the Snack Attack video for character change in the essay?  Remember when we hoped that some videos might be used on the state tests?   Even that year we did the PARCC.?  We could show the video.  Love it and then think about character change.  What if we did that work in start-and-stops with table groups or two partnerships together?

Our time is past over as usual.  There’s so much to share and talk about.   I read City Spies yesterday, but don’t really want to promote a mystery in fourth.  It did have a strong story arc with lots of attempts.  It would be interesting to see how the students mapped it and what they thought the climax was.  That’s always so tricky.  I saw that M. read Coyote Sunrise.  I love that book, great character change, but it’s so sad.  What next?  I am thinking about reading the historical fiction book, They Bicycle Spy.  I know you have already read it, but I was wondering if I could create a mentor arc of another historical fiction for talking it over with the other teachers.

Have a great day!  Glad we had this time together…

Another Step Forward #20

Another Step Forward #20

March 11, 2020

I’ve been away from a school for a few days.  I haven’t seen him since last Wednesday.  A whole week.  Would he be able to do it?  Would he remember what we had worked on? 

The literacy center is full of people this morning.  I don’t usually see him in the morning.  His teacher and I decided that since I’m having success with our afternoon work, perhaps I should take over the morning work as well.  Ok, I said,  I’ll give it a try.

So this morning I go to find him as soon as I can.  It’s nearly nine and I drop by.  I’m going to give it a go, I say to his teacher.  Go for it, she says.  I call to him.  He seems surprises to see me.  I lean down.  Sorry,  I say,  I’ve been away.  Do you want to come work?

We make our way to the literacy center.  He takes my hand as we go and my heart squeezes.  When I enter the literacy center, you can tell he’s surprised that we aren’t alone.  These teacher work with me, I say.  He looks up at me skeptically.  It’s still just me and you, bud,  I say.

I can feel all of them look at us, but reluctantly stay back in their business.  He’s a cutie pie and they all want to talk to him.  I can feel it.  For now, they just watch casually.

We make our way through the book shelves to the table, white board, markers and erasers we usually use.  He loves the magnets and eraser.  I feel him exhale as he sees our set up seems the same as usual, including his name that he wrote with magnets last week.

Do you think you can write your name without spelling it with magnets first?  I ask.  He nods.  I’m not sure if he’s said any words aloud yet.  Ok,  go for it.  I nod.  He leans over the rail of the white board easel and peers into the ledge.   Are you going to write with orange or green today?  Oh, orange,  I narrate.

So slowly he goes.  I know he’s not going to quite have enough room without changing the size of his letters, but I decide to let it go.  He writes the first letter making it capital.  What sound does that make?  I haven’t asked him that before and he turns to look at me before answering.  He makes the sound of his initial letter and continues spelling slowly and deliberately.  He gets to the “e”.   That letter has been giving him trouble.  A lefty, it’s hard for him to see that loop, but today he makes it better than ever before.  A perfectly formed lower case e.  Yeah, you,  I say.  That’s great.  You’ve been practicing.  He hesitates and then writes another letter.  He has missed one letter and I remind him by saying,  Let’s go back and check to see if you have the letters you need.  He doesn’t remember so I prompt the letter by giving him the sound.  He forms the letter remembering to make it look distinctively different from the similarly formed r.  He’s nearly there.  Just two more letters in this long name.  As he finishes we say the sounds out loud of each letter, including the sound in his name and the common sound of each.

He writes it two more times naming the sounds as I prompt. and I ask, what would you like to spell now? He looks at the other teacher left in the room.  She’s eating a banana.  She says. I didn’t eat breakfast.  Do you like bananas too?   He nods.  Do you want to spell it?  She starts with the sounds.  I wonder if he will be able to form the letter as she says the sounds even though there are so few.  He forms the first a backwards and then in a new place the N seems like a new letter to him at first.  Finally we spell b-a-n-a-n-a.

Great!  Let’s go back to class now.  I’ll see you tomorrow.  We walk together back to the room.  I’m cheering inside.  I hope he is too.  The world just opened up.