I Did It! Year 9!

I realize that I tend to spend the 31 day of this challenge
celebrating and reflecting, which I’ve done over the years HERE.
This year, 2022, my 9th year, I will do the same!

Hurrah for me!
I wrote and posted for 31 days, each morning around 6:30am.
I commented every day on exactly 3 others in the AM.
Always the two slicers who posted right before me and the one who posted right after.
This morning routine serves me well. And it always made my day
when fellow slicer, Erika or Fran, posted right below or above me which frequently happened.

Then I’d return most/some evenings to comment on my slicer friends.
I’d also try to read new slicers who found me and left me a comment.
I will admit, in years prior to Covid, I read and comment much more.
But I’m giving myself grace and just happy that on all days,
I at least commented on 3.
As I discovered during 2014, my first year, reading other slices is such a gift
and actually improves my writing because the slices all become mentor texts.

This 9th year, I am proud that I lived like a writer
and made a conscience effort to write about something from the current day.
Looking back, I notice I crafted:
10 school-related small moments
4 personal small moments
2 family-related slices
5 slices related to the war in Ukraine, very much on my mind this month
8 slices related to authors and books, two topics that take up much of my time
2 slices related to shows I am streaming
4 slices related to the PD I gave and the conferences I attended this month

This 9th year, I am proud of the craft moves I made.
Looking back, I notice I wrote:
1 letter, 9 poems, and 20 small moments.
I included flashbacks and dialogue
and am starting to feel more comfortable describing in verse.
I includedapplicable hyperlinks
and If linking to a book, I linked to an Indie bookstore.
I added photos as a featured image and at times as a tiered gallery.
I added tags when I remembered.
It’s taken me 9 years but I am starting to understand all that this blog can do!!

This 9th year, I checked the numbers.
Looking back, I notice I wrote:
10,217 words and received 252 comments.

This 9th year, I can’t thank this community enough.
I feel so suppoerted by so many who take time to read my slice and leave me a comment.
I feel so priviledge to be able to read gorgeous poetry, decriptive small moments
and stories that move me to tears.

This 9th year, a big THANK YOU goes to Stacey, Amy, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, and Melanie.
This seems a bit inadequete to all this March Writing Challenge gives me.
It is a safe place to share my stories.
It is a safe place to receive encouraging feedback.
It is a safe place to work my writing muscle.
I am so grateful this online writing community exists.
and it only exists because of the tireless devotion of Stacey, Amy, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, and Melanie.

This 9th year, also a big THANK YOU to my biggest fans:
Fran McCracken gave me the MOST comments (24)
Erika Victor came in 2nd (22)
Fran McVeigh came in 3rd (17) and spotlighted me on her blog on the 11th! (so kind!)
I look forward to thanks all three of your someday soon in person!

I also look forward to having a writing break now |
But I will be back on Tuesdays.
(But maybe not until May when I’ll have wedding stories to write and share!)
And I’ll definitely be back in 2023!
For now, 2022 is a wrap!!

I Did It! Year 8!

Yesterday, I packed a cooler of food and a suitcase of clothes and a backpack of books and drove three hours to our beach house in Chincoteague, VA. (famous for the ponies and setting of the 1948 Newbery Honor book, Misty of Chincoteague). Once I arrived, I spent the afternoon rereading my last 30 Slice of Life postings. I noticed the topics I wrote about and the craft moves I tried. Here’s what I discovered:

I wrote 11 school-related small moments.
I worte 11 personal-related small moments.
Three slices shared about PD I gave or participated in this month.
Two slices related to an earlier family memory.
One slice was how I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day.
One was about how the loss of a friend’s mother triggered other losses for me.
One was a reflection on commenting as a slicer and it got a SHOUT OUT today by TwoWritingTeacher’s in their Be Inspired section (WOW!!! What an honor!!!Thank you!!)

And I did ALL this during a pandemic, a time when I notice my focus is more challenged. It makes sense that I stuck with what I know. A moment from my teaching day. A moment from a personal walk. Looking back, so often I kept it small. In a couple of instances, I told a small part and returned to it the next day and told the rest of the story. This may have started as my struggle to attend but I came to see these small pieces as being more powerful writing. By zooming in and saying less, I think I said more. A good lesson for me to learn.

This year, I actively tried to embrace more of the blog features as I created my posts. I learned how to add a Featured Image from Jennifer Gonzales’ Jump Start course (which I recommend as well as her Cult of Pedagogy podcast) and had fun picking just the right image to match the topic of my slice each day. Whenever I mentioned something that could be linked, I took time and addded the hyperlink. I noticed I included links to: videos, padlets, books (always now using a link to an Indie Bookstore website), author websites, a sound video and links to other slicers’ blog posts. Blogs are designed to be interactive and finally after eight years, I notice I have started to embrace a few of the many available features.

This year, I also noticed I actively included photos to show more to my readers. I figured out how to use the slideshow feature on WordPress. I figured out how to crop tweets and texts from my phone, airdrop them to my MacBook Air and include them as an image in my slice. I included images of slides I used as a teacher and student work samples, too. I found myself taking walks during the day and snapping photos thinking maybe I could use this image in a future slice. It seems that my camera gallery has become another kind of writing notebook!

I can’t thank the TwoWritingTeachers enough for providing this safe-space for me to grow as a writer and a blogger. The daily practice is paying off for me! I look forward to more writing and reading and commenting on Tuesdays throughout the whole year and then again in March, 2022. We become what we do. WIth confidence and because of this community, I happily end this slice proclaiming, “I am a writer. I am a blogger.”

Now off to take a walk on the beach. Yes, I’ll have my notebook and camera in my pocket. This community has trained me well.

7th year!

This is my 400th blog post celebrating my Lucky 7th year as a slicer! 7 x 31 days = 217 so this shows that I also started slicing every Tuesday along the way. For me, this number – 400 – shows how proud I am to write and proud to read the writing of others.

Yesterday, I figured out how to schedule a zoom celebration meeting. I invited the 14 teachers in my area who sliced this year. I can’t wait for it to be 5pm and see the grid of faces! My writing friends. True friends who I know because I have read their stories and they know me because they have read my stories.

I asked each to come to the party ready to share a reflection on this year’s writing. And I offered sentence stems to help. Here’s my reflection:

I am proud I tried to always make my comments be about the writing craft. Even when I read post and had a strong connection to their story, I avoided a comment that would just sound like a conversation, “The same thing happened to me…” Instead, I tried to say, “Because of your precise details, I could really feel/see and easily make a connection to a similar situation in my life. I am proud of the comments I made.

I was surprised by the comfort I felt writing and reading as the blanket of the coronavirus spread across the world and overtook the slicers’ focus. It surprised me how much it helped me to share feelings and how it equally helped me to read others’ stories and realize I was not alone.

The slice that I wrote that sticks with me is Color. I wrote it on March 23rd, a Thursday. It is a reflection of the color I now associate with the coronavirus.

The slice that I read that sticks with me is Meg’s entitled Teacher Research is the Therapy Every Educator Needs. I read it and immediately wrote to Meg and suggested we co-author an article together, her from the point of view as the teacher researcher and me as the facilitator. I told her how I am terrified too to write a professional journal article but I still want to try. Together, it doesn’t seems as scary.

Together, during March 2020, I wrote every day within a supportive community. Looking across my writing topics, they include stories about my school, my routines, my friends, the current news, poetry, books and color. Looking at my dashboard, I received 285 comments. These comments kept me going every day. I was thrilled to win the Mentor Award!! I love including others in things I like but it does feel good when others notice and appreciate my actions.

My first post took place as our school play was ending and it was in the time “before coronavirus”. On the 13th of March the Governor of VA closed schools for the rest of the year. Then yesterday, March 30th, he ordered all to “shelter-in-place”. I’m grateful this challenge pushed me to write every day during an unprecedented month in the worlds’ history. I can’t thank Stacey and her crew for running this writing challenge all month long. Already I am looking forward to March, 2021.

I did it!

Since this was year 6 for me, I knew I could write for 31 days, post and read at least 3 others and leave a comment, daily for each day in March. But as I reflect back on this month, I am celebrating all I did:

  • I added a Featured Image to each post: I learned this from a great online class I took this summer by Cult of Pedegogy  finding my image using Pixabay , as suggested in the course.
  • I added hyperlinks to direct the readers to another place to go related to my topic (see examples in last bullet point!)
  • I added Tags, something I started last year. Now on the right-side of my blog, a word cloud appears. A glance at it now shows the topics I write lots about include my daughters, Anne and Bridgit, along with books, my home, reading, writing, TCRWP, travel, and my OLW (one little word).
  • On the 28th of this month, a fellow slicer and colleague taught me how to make a slideshow in wordpress. First I pick the +Add dropdown menu, then choose Media, then pick 3 or more photos, then press Continue. A new screen appear. Pick Layout Dropdown menu. Scroll down and pick SLIDESHOW and insert. Magically, wordpress inserts those images as a slideshow! (Must choose 3 or more images to have slideshow option in layout). For example, I just snagged an image of the blog headers of all my friends in the DC/Arlington, VA area that I know sliced and who I have been reading with month. Now here are those images in a slideshow:

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • As I look through the 30 posts I made this month, I notice:
    • 8 poems
    • 9 true small moments
    • 9 school stories
    • 6 related to porfessional development
    • 2 family stories
    • 1 basketball story
    • 1 about an Orange Slicer Party
    • 1 about the PLACE I like to write
    • 2 about time
  • As I reflect, I know I spent more time trying to craft my stories and when I got this comment yesterday, it became my favorite because I had really worked to set up a contrast:Screen Shot 2019-03-31 at 9.05.24 AM
  • As I reflect, I am amazed at how much went on in my personal and school life this month and yet, I still took time to write. It was hard. But it is a routine I am glad I embraced six years ago. It is also one I am fine to now just post  weekly on Tuesdays! (And to be honest, maybe I’ll start my Tuesday posts after Spring Break! )
  • As I reflect, I give a special thank you to TwoWritingTeachers who include Stacy, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, and Melanie. The community of writers you create is one I feel honored to be a part of. March is my now favorite month!
  • APRIL 11 – If you are in the DC area, come to my SLICER celebration! Orange Party at my house at 4:30pm. (Leave your contact info in a comment and I’ll send you the address) Wear ORANGE and/or bring an orange inspired snack to share! I plan to make an Aperol Spritz Pitcher.IMG_4413


Slicers Celebrate

I look down at my white salad-size plate. I see:
– an orange slice
– a wedge of brie next to crackers and salami slices
– a slice of perfectly ripe cantaloupe
– a twizzler (not red in color but cream-sickle in color and flavor)
– a slice of homemade bundt cake
– a wrapped lindt orange chocolate truffle candy
– a slice of pepperoni pizza.
In my hand is a champaign glass filled with a bright orange mimosa.

The common thread of this unusual happy hour menu?
Orange in color or comes as a slice!

Sitting around me are the writers of the following blogs:

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.24.21 PM


Leah and Michelle were with us in spirit but couldn’t attend the Happy Hour Party.)

We all sit in my living room on a Thursday after school to celebrate! Why? Because during the month of March, we all wrote a daily slice of life on our blog. Then we posted it to the twowritingteachers’ blog as part of their March Writing Challenge. We also read at least 3 other daily posts and added a comment. And we especially enjoyed receiving comments from other slicers.

For the next hour or so, we munch on our unusual snacks, introduce ourselves to each other and share more about our lives. As host, I know everyone. Four people I work with at my middle school. Two people I meet with monthly as a writing club. Two people I met in 2003 when I started working at their school and have remained strong friends with them for now 15 years. Today, they all gathered in person at my house!

As I make introductions, they ask each other “What’s your blog title?” as that name is more familiar. “I really liked that story you wrote about….” is heard once we connect the person in front of us to their writing identity. Our group is 7 women and one male. Some are middle school classroom teachers. One is an elementary school science teacher. One is retired. Two are reading specialist. One is a librarian. A few are career switchers. Others have always been teachers. A few are mothers and a few are grandmothers.  Though we are so varied, the common thread is we are writers.

We write stories. We share them in a space where we trust our audience to accept our humble attempts. For a month, we craft personal narratives based on the happenings of the day or a flashback to our childhood. Sometimes, we use a poem structure. Sometimes, we include photos. Always, we get a boost when a comment is added. Having an audience for a month, keeps us motivated. Spending time writing daily strengthens our writing muscle.

Sometimes, it was fun. Sometimes, it weighed us down. Always we pondered, What to write?  Sometimes, an idea came quickly. Sometimes, it was a gem. Sometimes, it was more of a draft. Sometimes, we’d rather just throw it away. But no matter what, we posted and then started thinking about the next day’s writing.

I think this is what it must feels like for professional writers, too.

Thank you and CHEERS to Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily forum each March.                                                                                                     slice of life 2016

Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.


My Percentages

Today is my last day of participating in the 2018 March Writing Challenge. I’m heading off to visit my daughter in France for Spring Break. I promise to write daily in my journal but I personally want to be disconnected from the internet as we travel. So today, I want to take time to offer my thanks as if it were March 31st:

Thank you to the TwoWritingTeacher who are really Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey. This is my fifth year and I so appreciate the space you have created and maintain so I can write and receive comments. I so appreciate the community you have harnessed. I trust this community and humbly I share my writing because of the trustworthy space you have created.

Thank you to all the writers participating in the 2018 March Challenge. I love all the reading I did  this March.  I am always amazed by how the reading of other’s writing shapes me as a writer.

Reflecting on my writing today, I took time to notice what I wrote about across the 20 days. In the spirit of percentages that Fran wrote about days ago, I have written a percentage poem. Click HERE to see my inspiration from Fran.

My posts this March
ended up being
15% about my house
20% about school
and 15% about the conference I attended
from March 8-10th.
15% were opinion pieces
only 1 or 5%, a poem.
10% reflections on my life
15% reflections about using technology
and 5% or 1 entry, as Top Ten piece
(maybe something Dave Letterman could enjoy!)
Now,  I’m off to France to play with the slicer,
also know as Present Perfect
but who I call “my Anne!”
I look forward to sharing my Parisian adventures
through slices on Tuesdays
in April and beyond.


March 31 – I did it, 2nd year in a row!!

This year, I wasn’t so worried.

Not like last year. Last year was my first year doing this challenge. Last year, I was worried. I wasn’t sure about the technology. Could I post a blog entry daily? Would I have a topic to write about every day? Would I have time to read and leave a comment? Would anyone give me a comment?

This year, I made 31 entries.
I gave at least three comments every day.
I did it!!
And I received 128 comments.

I wasn’t expecting how much the comments would mean to me – both getting them and giving them. The process involved in commenting is so powerful. When reading others’ slices, I noticed the craft moves made and thought about whether I could try this same craft move in my writing. I especially noticed what craft moves made me laugh or cry and then tried to write to elicit similar emotions. I would notice possible genres and structures of writing I could try. Without reading other slices, my slices would have been same old, same old. Probably all small moments.

But instead, I wrote:
3 poems
2 letters
5 memoirs
4 reviews
4 essays
3 informational pieces
and 10 small moments.

I spent lots of time revising and editing. This year I consciously tried to add hyperlinks and photos. I can now use the “LINK” button and photo button in blogspot! I can point to many places in my writing where the word choice and the structure and the elaboration are stronger than my writing from last March. A part of me feels surprised by this reflection. Yet, another part hears the saying “You get better at writing by writing.” Of course, you do!

I can’t thank the TwoWritingTeachers enough. Thank you for providing this space for a community of writers to gather. Thank you to all who left me comments. They gave me the energy to keep going. Thank you to my friends who did the challenge with me – Scott, Mary, Fran and Marilyn – I loved getting to know you all more through your stories and having your actually physical presence gave me energy to keep going. And know I can add Tara and Fran and Catherine to this list as I have met you too, though briefly! Finally, thank you to the 5th grade Janney students. So many of you wrote optional small moment stories and that also gave me energy to keep going.

Though I independently wrote and posted daily to the blog, I am so grateful that I could be together with so many SOL writers. As I celebrate today with my students – An Orange Party complete with the wearing of orange clothing and eating orange food – Scrabble Chees-its), I plan to show the scene from the movie The Wizard of Oz. That moment when Dorothy gets hit in her bedroom during the twister and then awakes, walks to the front door of her house and opens the door. Suddenly, the screen goes from black and white to vibrant techno-color! She begins to walk with Toto and says, “I’m not in Kansas anymore.” Being part of a writing community has this same feeling – during March, as I wrote daily, I was so many other places. Just as Dorothy, I was on an adventure that only writing my stories can lead!!



Thank you Fran! I LOVE the roses!!!

March 31 – I did it!!

Back in February, I really wasn’t sure if I COULD write something every day, as well as, read and comment on at least three others’ writing. Now I CAN say “I did it!!”

To celebrate, I planned an ORANGE party in my 4th grade classroom. I bought clementines at the grocery store, orange crepe paper to hang at our classroom door, a fun pencil to give to the student who wrote and graphed the most small moments after me with me (Way to go, Ivy!!), and an orange pipe cleaner for ALL to twist and create their own party favor.

I am glad I made the graph and made it so public outside my classroom door. It kept me going. As soon as the student’s also started to write, that kept me going, too.


When I look at my 31 blog posts made during this SOL Writing Challenge.
7 are small moments that happened while I was an adult and 2 while I was a child.
4 are my reflections about an author or a book.
2 are small moments about a family member.
3 are poems
5 are small moments that happened in my classroom.
8 are nonfiction writing – me sharing info I heard at a conference

Then I tallied and I received a total of 123 comments! Unexpectedly, getting comments was my favorite part of this challenge. Knowing that someone read my words and then took time to tell me their connection or thoughts about what I wrote gave me so much energy! It kept me going!

Which is why today I am taking time to make a BIG DEAL about the optional writing my students did. We all have stories that ONLY we can tell. I love that so many of my students’ stories got onto paper this month. I plan to have us sit in groups of four and listen to each read a part from the small moment they wrote this month (an optional assignment that ALL did!). Then the other 3 can give a compliment. Then the writer can smile and say thank you!

Yet THANK YOU does NOT seem enough to only say. But I do say a HUGE THANK YOU Two Writing Teachers, who are actually six amazing writers who understand the power of a writing community and made a virtual one happen right here on their blog. I am so glad I learned about this March Challenge. It was a great honor to post daily my slice as a newbie. I worked my writing muscle. I end the month of March feeling like I am a writer! We truly do become what we do!

THANK YOU, Stacey, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, and Tara!!!