March Warm Up #sol19

31-day-streak-with-borderMarch Warm Up #sol19

February 28, 2019

I sat down this morning to prewrite my blog for tomorrow, however traditionally our first blog of March is a kick off to introduce our blog to others or talk about our plan for our March writing.  I have a different plan for my Friday blogs during this month, so I thought I might write today about my plan.  It’s in the front of my mind and I can’t get my Friday blog out until I clear it out of the way.  (LOL)

This is my third year of the 31 day writing streak.  It seem extreme to say it is life-changing, but really it is.  Not only have a developed a real writing habit, but it’s change the way I see writing instruction and writing in general.  Perhaps predictably,  I never really saw myself as a writer.  Encouraged by a thoughtful mentor to write about my practice in a greater PLN,  I began blogging three years ago by jumping right into the month long challenge.  While the writing has been so helpful to my practice, allowing me to consider my OLW more carefully, examine practice, and definitely become more observant of my greater world,  the greatest gift I received was the companionship with my fellow slicers.  In a core group of 6-12 slicers who I feel I have a writing relationship with through our blogs,  I have discussed practice, next steps, tough times, and celebrated triumphs.  These core bloggers,  along with many other blogs I follow now,  have taught me about resources I wouldn’t have found, practices I might not have tried, perspectives I might not have consider, and endless lessons gently taught by caring writers with similar sensibilities.

I honestly am not sure about my methods from the last two years.  I know my first year I prewrote blogs and kept them in a folder in my google drive.  In both years, following a suggestion by many,  I keep a blog fodder journal, which is always filled with ideas I hope to write long about sometime in the near future.  This is a great way to try out a my blog journaltechnique I am often suggestion to students of keeping a place for writing ideas to forego the I don’t know what to write about.  That lesson alone has been so beneficial to me, both in giving me ideas to come back to and also to teach me to notice and consider many, many things that I might have noticed at the time and never given deep thought.  I show it to you now because it is an absolute mess filled with coffee stained notes I shoved into my handbag, notes quickly jotted in the car from something I read, stickies written during a chat or a show when a random thought occurred to me and… a few carefully constructed ideas.  Perhaps this is where I emphatically tell you that a) you can do a better job than me and b) if you don’t,  it doesn’t matter because this is a forgiving audience with a just go for it attitude.   My own darling chief welcome wagon encourager is still writing me a response each week even when my blogs are again a hot mess.  He is an amazing writer with tight well constructed thoughts whereas you can see I am a wordy rambler sometimes. most times

This year’s plan is to have a theme(like) for each day of the week, so that I know what type of writing I am going to do that day:  book reviews, follows, regular slices and a few other ideas.  If you new and reading this,  I suggest you read A LOT of blogs this week going back into archives of ones that resonate with you to see their style and subject matter.

To my long time writing friends,  I can’t wait to read what you write each day.  To myself,  you can do this!   See you in there.


I am writing every day for the next 31!  Here’s to day 1.  Thanks to all of the Slicers and especially Stacey, Jcareyreads, ebgriffin, dmsherriff, Brian Rosinsky, Clare Landrigan, and many others for nuturing my writing and being my PLN away from home.

Why I Write #sol18


Why I Write #sol18

April 10, 2018

“I, myself, write to change my life, to make it come out the way I want it to. But other people write for other reasons: to see more closely what it is they are thinking about, what they may be afraid of. Sometimes writers write to solve a problem, to answer their own question. All these reasons are good reasons. And that is the most important thing I’ll ever tell you. Maybe it is the most important thing you’ll ever hear. Ever.”
― Patricia MacLachlan, Word After Word After Word

I, myself, write to change my perception.  I never considered myself a writer. I taught writing,  I had students write. I wrote. In my mind, I wasn’t a writer.  When I published my 100th blog, I added writer to my twitter bio.  Perhaps one hundred blogs doesn’t make me a writer, but now I’m a person who writes.  
I,  myself, write to share an idea.  Sometimes I write to share a passed-on idea.  Sometimes I write to share a synthesis of several ideas.  Sometimes I write to share a memory that sparked another idea.  I share ideas. 


I,  myself, write to live in community with other writers.  We know each other through our writing. We know the joy of words strung together.  We know the frustration of words that will not string together. We learn together how to write,  how to improve our writing, how to support each other as writers.


I, myself, write to rethink an experience. Occasionally they are wonderful experiences and I want to think about them again.  Other times, they are trying experiences and I want to think through them again. I experience  them more fully when I write them down.


I, myself, write to improve my teaching and coaching.  When I write about what I teach, I examine it more carefully.  When I write about my coaching, I examine that as well. In that examination, that noticing, I change.  I grow.

I , myself, write, to experience what the students experience. I think about structure, syntax, and grammar.  I think about word choice and voice.  My thoughts fill with mentor texts.  Sometimes, I even think about spelling. I am a student of writing. 
I, myself, write to solve a problem,  to answer a question, to make things turn out the way I want them to.

I, myself, write.  I am a writer.


Thank you to my fellow bloggers for inspiration and encouragement and to TWO WRITING TEACHERS for creating this opportunity.  Read more amazing blogs and join the writing here.


Noticing #sol18

IMG_0967Noticing #sol18

March 31, 2018

Lily and I have the luxury of a walk this morning heading out to our woodsy trail.  We haven’t been this way in quite some time impeded by snow for so long. Today spring is breaking through.  Under foot wet soggy leaves make me hesitant, not Lily. She’s confident, leading the way. Twigs break under foot. My eyes  drawn to the the trees overhead, noticing their raw wounds from recent storms. Tiny islands of snow crop up here and there, spring will not be denied now. Lily’s keen nose and sharp eyes notice far more than mine stopping her to smell a branch or rock, look out into the woods that surrounds us. My eyes are drawn to the brilliant green and subtle difference of the moss on every rock. The moss senses the change. 

 I notice myself composing as I walk,  the silence opening up the words that flow across my consciousness. Small phrases worked over like smooth pebbles in a stream.  Not quite right yet. Composing, switching phrases, juggling imagery. Would I have done this before?  Would I have noticed like a wordsmith, like a chronicler, like a writer?

I am sharper, keener, more observant.  Noticing more around and thinking more deeply about how I express myself, not just in my print, but in my words everywhere.  Space for contemplation matters more and so I give it more generously. Thoughts have more space to grow, perhaps flourishing or lying in my notebook for other opportunities. Revising  more, thinking about sentences days later and returning to change word order, clarity, tense seems common place now. Changed as a writer. 

As I thinking more about writing, I consider more about teaching writing as well.  Talking first, rehearsing. We did this before but it feels differently now, more like a sharing, a collaboration, joyful.  Bringing what I’ve  noticed to the daily practice of writing. 

Last year,  I composed in documents, careful, hesitant, concerned.  Now my thoughts come and I begin to compose not caring if I discard them later.  More will come. Just then, clarity. What I’ve learned, just like spring,  more will come. 


And just like that it’s over,  day 31 of 31. I am forever grateful to my writing mentors, encouragers, and fellow journeyers in this the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Special thanks to Two Writing Teachers and the amazingly talented writers that curate that site not just during March but throughout the year.  See for yourself at Two Writing Teachers.

What I Learn From Other Slicers #sol18

IMG_0944.jpgWhat I Learned From Other Slicers #sol18

March Year 2 Edition March 30, 2018

The intimacy of sharing a writing community and reading someone’s writing each day across time and place is profound.  Images and ideas stick with you long after you have left.

I have learned so much from so many bloggers this March. Last year I was so focused on just getting the writing done I didn’t allow myself enough space to just enjoy other writing and other perspectives.  This year I let go other reading to really read blogs consistently, reading between 20-25 blogs every day and sometime more than that.  Reading deeply in one genre gives you a stronger understanding of craft.  Here are 10 highlights from a month full of so many, tucked into my blog journal, my electronic folder, and my reading list. They will remain there for some time. 

From Alice Nine I learned about many different types of poetry, my favorite of which was golden shovels, My Daddy’s Golden Shovel.  In addition,  Alice has a wonderful way of weaving teaching techniques into her blog and respond to comments in a way that continues to teach.   To everyone else that wrote, explained, and taught me poetry techniques I am truly grateful.  Special recognition to Fran McVeigh, Lynne Dorfman and others.

From Lanny Ball and Stacey Shubitz, and others,   I learned true slicing,  those truthful everyday moments that hold so much meaning and sentiment.  Stacey let us into her little family and allowed me to peek at moments in young parenting that are long past for me. Last year, Stacey taught me how to make those watercolor illustration for my blog.

From humbleswede and Fran Haley, and others,  I learned that my dog could have a say which leaves the possibilities open for so many other things.  Lily still hasn’t gotten her say, but she has received honorable mention.

From Darin Johnston &  JCareyreads,  I learned that we can be PLN friends,  share ideas, and strengths, and hopes with each other.  Their honesty and thoughtful responses are the hallmark of what makes this challenge so meaningful.

From mbhmainepersistence and pedagogy,  and others,  I remembered about the variety of the slice techniques. So many of these techniques are squirreled away for a Tuesday.

From comments  like those from ureadiread and others, I was affirmed, supported, and taught.   5 star commenting from Brian Rozinsky for this whole solid year.  ( I have still yet to learn brevity from him)

From ebgriffin, saavyteacher and others,  I learned that we can talk over virtually what we are thinking, rehash what we wished, and have a virtual redo.

From mrspalmerponders and others,  I thought about the true depth of mentor texts.  Her How-To about blueberry picking will stick with me.

From my friend,  Clare Landrigan,  I continue to learn that you can accomplish what you set your mind to, that encouragement means everything, and you can know a person, but learn a lot more from their writing.

From my little welcome wagon tribe,  I learned that affirming someone else feels pretty great.

Bonus:  There were so many blogs that I truly enjoyed like this one from Anita,  Frog, Toad, and Vygotsky  I hope I told each of you when you wrote them.

This year blogging after school and posting in the AM worked for me as did reading  blogs throughout the day.  This technique was encourage by my welcome wagon crew being spread across the country posting at all different times. 

I learned a few things about myself too,  but I’ll save those for day 31.  

img_1405Day 30 of a 31 day challenge.  Writing with my writerly friends as part of the Slice of Life Challenge.  Read even more of their amazing blogs at Two Writing Teachers.  Thanks to Melanie, Stacey, and Lanny for coordinating so much for so many and encouraging me personally.

Introductions #sol18

IMG_9597Introductions #sol18

March 2, 2018

Just like me to skip over introductions the first slice and dive right into whatever fleeting idea comes through my head.

So…  by way of introduction… and backtrack…

Here I am in my capacity as one of the literacy coaches for my Massachusetts school district.  One of my favorite activities,  the yearly new teacher literacy induction annual selfie.  One of these years I’ll buy myself a selfie stick and this will be much better looking but perhaps not nearly as fun.

I refer to myself as a literacy coach these days, though others might use reading, specialist, or intervention in my descriptive title.  I answer to all, but my heart is in coaching.  I want to be a coach.  Coaches are funny, inspiring, tough with a soft heart, and mostly successful.  Coaches get right in there and inspire others to their best selves.  I don’t wear a whistle, but I have been known to sneak some sneakers into my daily look.

I’m in transition.  My principal says I can’t say I’m in transition anymore as I have been in this position in Massachusetts for eight years. However,  I left at least a good portion of my heart in the Chicago suburbs.  My wagon wheels still long for the ruts that were comfortable there including some trails to amazing pizza and frozen custard and hot dogs… and people.  I left behind our family including my man-child oldest and so many educators that formed by beliefs and watched my back.

I’ve been an administrator, but my passion is kids.  I am energized by them.  I adore their talk, their thinking, and their honesty.  I have a desk in our literacy center, but you’d be hard pressed to find me there during the school day unless it’s to find you a book.

I consider myself a reader first and never until recently ever entertained the idea I could be any type of writer.  I’m not sure what scarred me in my youth, but I’m guessing it was the five paragraph essay.  I remember in my undergrad and several rounds of graduate school laboring over writing anything.  I wanted to write like I talk and thank goodness this seems to give me an outlet and a forgiving audience to do that.

Technology is my partner.  I don’t know what I did before IPads and mobile phones and laptops brought me amazing things like word press and instagram and TWITTER.   I was experimenting with text-speech this morning in my car because there is so MUCH wasted time between that commute and when I’m in the shower WHEN I THINK OF SOME REALLY good ideas.  It’s frustrating.  My handbag and book bag and desk are full of notebooks for blogging, conferring, conferring with students, planning, scheming, and generally keeping track of my day.

So that’s me in a large nutshell.  Looking forward to a month of writing with you.


Day 2 of 31 day writing challenge. Thank you to my fellow bloggers for inspiration and encouragement and to TWO WRITING TEACHERS for creating this opportunity.  Read more amazing blogs and join the writing here.

Speaking the Right Language #sol18


Speaking the Right Language #sol18

March 1, 2018


I skimmed an article online the other day that said that the key to maintaining a solid, happy relationship was expressing love in the way that your partner wants to receive it.  The ways to receive love were fairly standard:  receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch.   The trick is knowing which way feels like love to another person.

I’m totally clear with the way I express love to others,  I do things.  On a daily basis for the last at least 30 years,  I’ve packed a morning lunch for myself, my husband, and at some points along the way, one or two sons.  The lunches are fairly standard with the exception of having homemade cookies or dessert in them nearly every day.  As many parents (and perhaps spouses),  I try to keep to favorites and add a few surprises along the way.  In addition,  many people have received knitted scarves or Monday cakes and cookies over the years.   I also adore to make dinner for family and friends.

The way I give affection and the thinking about how others may want to receive it made me think about the way I deliver coaching as well.  Do I deliver my assistance, my coaching, my partnership in a way that is optimally received by the other person?  Is it what they expected?  Needed?  or even wanted?

I’ve had some amazing partnerships over the years. So beneficial and rewarding to me and I believe rewarding to the other folks involved.  An amazing partnership with a first grade team in my home state.  Debbie Miller enthusiasts,  we planned our cozy classrooms with child center learning right out of the pages of Reading with Meaning including a pilgrimage to see Ms. Miller herself.  I have a wonderful mentor relationship with my far flung former literacy specialist partner in crime trudging to New York a couple of times a year,  going to workshops, talking on the phone during our commutes,  sharing reading and driving each other forward.  In the eight years I have been in my current position,  I have forged true partnerships,  teaching in the trenches with so many wonderful educators storied in my instagram and twitter feeds.  However during these many relationships and all the new ones I begin,  I think… what is it that these teachers really wants… and needs?

As you know,  occasionally our wants and needs are in conflict with each other. We can’t see the forest for the trees and all that.  More often that not,  I’ll say that I’m not sure of either:  the want or the need.  I made a calculated stab at it, asking some tried and true questions and more often than not,  I get on the board, if not in the bullseye.  Sometimes,  it takes time to be truly helpful.  You have to wait for it.  Watch for it.  Nurture it.

So much like the thirty eight years of lunch making,  it may not be Mr. K’s preferred expression of love.  Maybe his original family was better at expressions of affirmations,  maybe they were huggers.   My way of providing support to teachers may not be their preferred way, but I hope it’s an honest way, a dependable way, a helpful way today and that it improves tomorrow.



Day 1  of my 31 day writing streak!   Thanks to my dear friend, Clare Landrigan (@clareandtammy) for the encouragement,  my special blogging partners who support whatever I throw down,  and the Slice of Life community beautiful choreographed by the Two Writing Teachers team.  Give writing daily a try and read some beautiful words here.


24:7 The Unexpected Benefits of Blogging #sol17


24/7  The Unexpected Benefits of Blogging

March 25, 2017

I write to figure out what I’m thinking.  Joan Didion

I’ve almost done it.  I have successful completed 25 blogs. (I have one on reserve #planner)



Here are a few of the things I wasn’t expecting to learn.

I wasn’t expecting to improve my writing skills. Writing is so much more than writing.

I wasn’t expecting a healthy emotional outlet, but thinking through things as  I write in my writing journal helps me work through them. Reflection is good, really good. 

I wasn’t expecting to build a habit, but I have, writing after work, keeping a writer’s notebook, posting and reading blogs in the morning and evening.

I wasn’t expecting to make a difference to others. My thoughts resonate with others.

I wasn’t expecting to gain confidence.

I wasn’t expecting for anyone to read my blog, but some did.  What a responsive PLN.

I wasn’t expecting to stretch my thinking, but I did.

I wasn’t expecting how much I anticipated reading other participants’ blogs, so many are the highlight of my day.

I wasn’t expecting the overwhelmingly generous support I received for my writing.

I wasn’t expecting SO much honesty.

I was expecting to realize that being a writer makes me a better teacher and collaborator. Teachers of writing should write. 

I wasn’t expecting to count down the remaining days and wish there were more.

It’s wonderful when something exceeds expectations.

I knew some things but now I feel them in my bones. 

I am proud to participate with the generous and wonderful writers of the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I stand on the shoulders of Giants. This is Blog #24,  read some really wonderful blogs here.

So many bloggers to thank for their encouraging words, amazing posts, and generous honesty.  My life is richer for reading your words.