OLW – Structure

It’s my 7th year to choose a One Little Word.
2015 – Responsiveness
2016 – Transparency
2017 – Routine
2018 – Active
2019 – Confident
2020 – Here / Hear
2021 – Structure

Married to an architect, buidling structures come to mind when I think of this word.
That part of a building that is essential. That part that holds it all up.

As a reading teacher, text structures come to mind.
The organizations. Which one did the author use?
Chronological order, classification, definition, process, description, comparison, problem/solution, cause/effect.

When helping students, I provide tools as a support, as a structure.
Graphic organizers, sentence stems, timers, agendas, rubrics, checklists.

Personally, I have tools I turn to for support, as a structure.
The goodread app structures my reading life.
The health app counts my steps and strucutres my exercise.
Padlet holds onto useful links in a structured way.

When a structure is in place, I believe a stronger outcome occurs.
Because I want 2021 to be a good year, I am choosing STRUCTURE as my OLW.
I plan to be on the look out for structures to offer me support.
I plan to have a strong, structured 2021.

How about you? What is your OLW??!!

OLW – 2020 reflection

I started picking a OLW (AKA one little word) back in 2015 and each chosen word has served me well.
2015 – Responsiveness
2016 – Transparency
2017 – Routine
2018 – Active
2019 – Confident
2020 – Here / Hear

I wrote HERE about my 2020 word as I reflected on my 2019 word and now realized I never wrote about it again. I guess I was distracted by a few other things during 2020. Today I decided I would write about my 2020 OLW. I also think my 2021 OLW has found me. I’ll reveal it at the end!

What a difference a year makes. During 2019, I chose confident as my OLW and as I reflected on it on Dec. 31, 2019, I named many proud accomplishes I made confidently related to both my professional and personal life. I then ended the blog post naming here/hear as my 2020 OLW. I found it clever to choose a homophone:
HEAR….verb….to listen with my ears and maybe hear with my eyes, too, to notice more and maybe hear with my heart, too, in order to feel more for others.
HERE….noun…this place, this world, this life, this present….to live in the here and now.

In 2019, I felt so often that technology and social media removed our physical presence. We text. We email. We communicate. But no physical gathering occured. As I began 2020, I decided to make a point to not just type Happy Birthday and an emoji when facebook sent me an alert. My OLW would remind me to call the birthday person and invite them over or agree to meet up on a Saturday for an in-person lunch. Then once together, in the here and now, I’d listen, notice and hear them.

A push for this OLW was to specifically take time to see old friends again. Sadly, last December, a high school classmate suddenly died. I couldn’t attend her funeral in Texas so a few local friends gathered in her memory. We sat and prayed the rosary. Then we shared old stories and laughed together. As I drove home that day, I thought about how silly it is to wait to see old friends at a funeral. Instead, in the the here and now, I wanted to make time to gather and connect in person.

Then just three months into 2020, the here and now changed. Suddenly, it became no longer safe to physically gather in person. Thanks to technologies like zoom and google meets and social media like instagram and twitter, I began to safely connect with family and friends across screens. Suddenly h-e-r-e here tranformed to keep us all safe and well.

As I continued to adjust to the new 2020 normal, I do think I got a little better at using my ears to h-e-a-r hear. As my husband and I both began to work from home, we naturally started spenting more time sharing, discussing and wondering together. Back in 2019, by the time we both got home from working all day long, we didn’t feet like talking about our daily work particulars so we didn’t share much. Now, suddenly, as we eat all our meals together, we chat about our online work. And I find myself trying to listen well, with my ears, my eyes and my heart, too.

With just days away from the beginning of a new year, 2021, I’ve been thinking about my next OLW. As I reread my 2019 OLW reflection, I noticed a few things. In 2019, I read lots. I wrote lots. I traveled lots. I shared lots through presentations and blog posts. And it felt like a good year!

As I look more closely, I notice that when I have a structure in place, I do the things I love. For example, this TwoWritingTeacher Tuesdays and March Slice of Life structure keeps me writing. Recently, 2 friends suggested we write on Monday afternoons using Google Meets. This structured calendar invite ensures a regular day and time to keep us meeting and writing. I set a reading goal at my daughter’s suggesting using the Goodread app. This structure counts the books I read and charts it with my personal reading goal in mond. The Call for Proposal structure nudges me to apply to make presentations to share with others. So many structures catapult me toward the things I love to do.

I am picking STRUCTURE as my 2021 OLW. As I reflect on my personal goals for this upcoming year, I will ensure I have a structure in place to support me. I’m feeling it is the perfect word for me to add to this sixth year of choosing a ONE LITTLE WORD.
2015 – Responsiveness
2016 – Transparency
2017 – Routine
2018 – Active
2019 – Confident
2020 – Here / Hear
2021 – Structure

How was your 2020 OLW?
What’s your 2021 OLW going to be?

OLW – 2019 – confident

As I reflected HERE in August, my OLW – confident – was pushing me well. “You can do it, just be confident” was a great mantra!

As 2019 comes to an end, I am proud of so many things I accomplished.
As I end the year, I must thank my OLW.

As an educator:
I confidently made a presentation at the Virginia State Reading Association conference on writing about reading in March.
I confidently prepared and led literacy leaders in August during a 2-day Literacy Academy in my district.
I confidently opened in November the NBCT email that read “Congratualtions! You have renewed your National Boards”.
I confidently made two presentations at the 2019 NCTE conference in Baltimore.

I confidently started tracking my food and exercise (Thanks Noom) and feel healthy and notice clothes fitting much better!
I confidently wrote every day in March, most Tuesdays and once a month with my two writer friends.
I confidently read 52 books (Thanks Goodreads).
I confidently traveled to Lexington, KY, Tulum, Mexico, PA, Newark, NJ and NY.

Looking ahead to 2020, I am pondering the idea of listening more in the present moment. I got the idea for my 2020OLW from an off-Broadway show called Now.Here.This.

As it becomes 2020, I do want to be HERE…NOW…to hear…to listen…to reflect…to confer…to guide…

I think I am picking a homophone for 2020 – hear/here!
How about you?

Revisiting my OLW – Confident

As the 2019-2020 school year begins, I took time today to reread my OLW reflectioin HERE. It’s August now. As I look back to January, I find myself being pushed by this word.

“You can do this. Just be confident,” I repeated as I pressed SEND to submit my renewal documents for National Boards.

“You can do this. Just be confident,” I moaned while peering up at the 10-story high stone Mayan ruin in front of me begging to be climbed while on vacation.

“You can do this. Just be confident,” I decided as I began using the Noom app (and smile today, 12 weeks later and 12 pounds down. But more importantly, understanding my triggers better.)

“You can do this. Just be confident,” I point out as I shopped for the ingredients for the healthy recipes I chose to create for my dinner guests.

“You can do this. Just be confident,” I whispered under my breathe as I prepared to lead Professional Development on Reading and Writing Workshop for my district’s principals and reading teachers.

“You can do this. Just be confident.” I know I will repeat these seven words to myself throughout September. I am on staff at Dorothy Hamm Middle School, the brand new Middle School in my district. So many unknowns ahead. Yet, we have Dorothy as our model. She spoke up to end the practice of segregation in her neighborhood school in 1959. I’ll be working, 60 years later, on the site of the first school in the whole state of Virginia to be integrated, walking the same halls as her child did with confidence.


My OLW – confident – is serving me well this year.
How’s it going with you?

2019 OLW

2015 – Responsiveness
2016 – Transparency
2017 – Routine
2018 – Active

Looking back, these words served me well. Now for a 5th year, I reflect to name a ONE LITTLE WORD as a mantra for 2019…

A while ago, author Kwame Alexander gave me an idea when he spoke at my local public library. I wrote about it HERE and thought about using his word – ARROGANT as my word. “I am arrogant in my appreciation of myself.”

But as I say the word ARROGANT, negatives come to mind. And I want my word to be positive. As I explore his quote, the idea of being self-confident is the appeal. So as 2019 begins, I pledge to being CONFIDENT throughout the year.

Confident in my family...I look forward to being supportive of their work, continuing to settle into our home, designed by my husband, continuing to cheer on my adult children with their pursuits. “Because I have the BEST family,” she says arrogantly.

Confident in my personal interests…reading children’s literature, writing about my reading and my small moments while trying to cook healthy recipes and add more physical activity into my weeks. “I have read LOTS of books,” she says arrogantly.

Confident in my teaching…sharing my expertise, as well as, continuing to be a life-long learner. It is my year to renew for National Boards and I will confidently write about all the ways I have grown professionally since I first certified in 2010. “I’m a great teacher,” she says arrogantly.

My 2019 OLW = confident
(with a sprinkling of arrogance!)

What’s your OLW?!

Happy New Year!


OLW – How am I doing?

I’m home today on Election Day. Students have the day off so teachers like me can complete the first quarter report cards.
I voted.
I posted my grades.
It was pouring rain.
So with some time on my hand, I thought I’d write.
But I’m not sure what to write.

Then I started looking back at earlier posts.
And I reread what I wrote on June 4th – Midway Relfection.

My One Little Word for 2018 is ACTIVE.

However, I think I already know my 2019 Word! I had the pleasure of attending a Book Signing at my public library by Kwame Alexander. He was promoting his newest book, Swing.


During his Q&A, a kid asked him about rejection and what keeps him going when he is rejected. I loved his answer. He admitted that not all love his books and he has received LOTS of rejection letters or unfavorable book reviews. Then he shared his secret. He says he knows he is great! “I am arrogant in my appreciation of myself.” He suggested that if we always believe in ourselves, what others think won’t matter. We just need to be arrogant and say, “I’m great!”

That word, arrogant,  stuck with me for hours after the book event. And now, weeks later, I still think about “being arrogant”. Before Kwame, I think I saw only negative conotations with being arrogant. But now I understand how my belief in myself can be the goal. Though it is only Nov. 6 – Election Day, I do think my 2019 word, inspired by author Kwame Alexander, will be arrogant. Hmm…can it be an adjective and not a verb?? Well, be January 1st, I can decide…now how about 2018? How am I doing?

As for ACTIVE – this word is serving me well.
I need to be more active physically.
I’ve been very active in my professional development. This summer I wrote curriculum, have a summer virtual book club and now am getting MS teachers and 6th graders to visibly show in their Reading Notebook the invisible thinking they are doing while reading and viewing.
I also am guiding  a group of teachers to do Action Teacher Research and I got my county to give us recertification points for our work!
I’m staying active in my writing life and actually writing LOTS about my teacher research question which is: What is Personalized Learning and how will it look in a 6th grade Reading classroom? I’ve been asked to record video reflections as the year goes on so I try methods related to Personalized Learning and record what I think. So I’m both writing and orally sharing my story. Can’t wait to see what I figure out!
And I’ve been active in my reading life. Reading books like Swing and meeting authors and reading their books. I love that my homework is to read!!

And I still have the rest of November and December to be ACTIVE!

I’m feeling pretty arrogant in my appreciation of how great I am at being reflective and focused on staying ACTIVE!!!!!

How about you?!

PS – Did you VOTE?!! Here’s what my daughter’s outfit was today:



OLW – midway reflection

First off, how is it June, the 6th month?? By the last day of this month, the 2017-18 school will be over and so will half of 2018. How can that be??

Today, I thought I’d revisit my OLW and se how I am doing. On Dec. 31st, I wrote (in black):

My 2018 OLW will be….

I will be active in my personal life – actively eat well and exercise often and I won’t just SAY it, I’ll DO it! I’ll keep walking to school daily. I will look into an exercise or yoga class and join it! I have walked to school almost every day. I do like this outside time to think as I walk and see the flowers and birds and the morning sky. I still want to find an exercise class to join. Maybe during summer break!

I will be active in my teacher life – actively DO all that I teach my students to do and reflect on it often in the new club I am forming called the Reflect Often, Then Act Teacher Research Club #ROTATRClub  I am very good at actively reading and writing with my students. I also am proud of the club I actively formed to do Action Teacher Research. We met for the 5th time on Saturday and we plan to have a Celebration Share Out of our work in August. And all the club members want to continue on next year – casting a question, trying something out in the classroom, gathering data, reflecting often and concluding with some findings and implications for the future. (My club meets in person once a month. YOU are welcome to form a club and use my blog posts as a guide for your meeting OR just join my club virtually!)

I will be active in my writing life – actively meet monthly with my writing club, actively reflect on my MSblog each Sat and actively posting a SOL each Tuesday and every day in March. I am actively writing with my Writing Club each month! I have added some to my Middle School blog but need to add more about the Poetry Unit and add about the Ignite speeches and our Kate Messner Author visit. (I guess I have my next 3 Tuesday blog post ideas, now!) And I have added a post HERE most days in March (minus days without internet while on Spring Break) and on Tuesdays. Posting weekly on Tuesdays now seems to be a habit, an active writing routine!

I will be active in my reading life – actively find and join a book club (how crazy that I am a Reading 6 Middle School teacher but I am not part of a book club right now!) and I will actively add my thinking to my Reading Notebook after each book read. I haven’t found a book club to join in person. BUT I have reached out to virtual friends I have met here and at TCRWP and formed a July Virtual Book Club – ALL ARE WELCOME. Just click on the Padlet link to find out more!  I do like adding my thinking to my Readers Notebook!

I will be active in exploring my world – over Spring Break, I’ll do this by visiting my daughter in France – each month my husband and I want to  will explore a new restaurant for dinner, something we can easily do because we are empty-nesters – I will take advantage of living in Arlington, just across the river from D.C. which offers so many cultural experiences, most for free! I could do better here….I did get to explore Paris and Marseilles, France over Spring Break while visiting Anne, my daughter. So amazing!!! I did last week go explore a used book store in the town next to mine that a 6th grader told me about. I still want to go to The National Portrait Gallery to see the Obama Portraits. I still want to go out to dinner with my husband at a new restaurant. We just need to plan it but we instead end up being homebodies. 

So far, I’m doing OK with my OLW. How about YOU?



2018 OLW

As I reflected last week on my 2017 OLW (routine), one of my commenters (which I value so much) wrote “They speak to me and say live actively, be present.” (Thanks MaryAnnRiley). So I began thinking that ACTIVE, ACTION, or PRESENT could become my 2018 OLW.

I always like to look up my word in the dictionary and thesaurus.

Synonyms of action – act, deed, doing, feat
Words Related to action – accomplishment, achievement, attainment, experience, initiative, undertaking, performance, dealing, move, procedure, proceeding, step

Synonyms of active – alive, functional, going, living, working
Words Related to active – effective, employable, usable, viable, workable, performing, serving, busy, dynamic, flourishing, humming, roaring, thriving

Synonyms of present – current, immediate, instant, on-going, present-day
Words Related to present – contemporary, modern, new, newfangled, recent, breathing, existent, living

I am also inspired by a quote said by Cornelius Minor (awesome TCRWP Staff Developer): “We are not who we profess to be. We are how we spend our time.”

Reflecting on this:
I don’t want to just say, “I like art” but I want to spend the afternoon at an art gallery.

I don’t want to just say, “I like to read” but I want to join or start a book club and read and discuss in the company of others. And have a stack of books ready to read next and the pile of all I have read, just as high. And my thinking recorded in my Reading Notebook.

I don’t want to just say, “I want my health numbers to be better” but I want to daily eat and exercise so my numbers naturally get better.

I don’t want to just say, “I see there is a new restaurant/museum exhibit/play in town” but I want to regularly go to “it”.

And I don’t want to become what the antonyms for these words suggest:
Antonyms of action – inactivity, passivity, hesitation, reluctance, laziness, lethargy
Antonyms of active – asleep, dormant, lifeless, inert, dull, idle, inactive
Antonyms of present – absent, away, missing out

Now with just 12 hours to go in 2017, I should pick my word…

In the spirit of focusing on how I will spend my time, my 2018 OLW will be….

I will be active in my personal life – actively eat well and exercise often and I won’t just SAY it, I’ll DO it! I’ll keep walking to school daily. I will look into an exercise or yoga class and join it!

I will be active in my teacher life – actively DO all that I teach my students to do and reflect on it often in the new club I am forming called the Reflect Often, Then Act Teacher Research Club #ROTATRClub 

I will be active in my writing life – actively meet monthly with my writing club, actively reflect on my MSblog each Sat and actively posting a SOL each Tuesday and every day in March.

I will be active in my reading life – actively find and join a book club (how crazy that I am a Reading 6 Middle School teacher but I am not part of a book club right now!) and I will actively add my thinking to my Reading Notebook after each book read.

I will be active in exploring my world – over Spring Break, I’ll do this by visiting my daughter in France – each month my husband and I want to  will explore a new restaurant for dinner, something we can easily do because we are empty-nesters – I will take advantage of living in Arlington, just across the river from D.C. which offers so many cultural experiences, most for free!

Tomorrow starts 365 days of an ACTIVE life for me because I believe I am HOW I spend my time. I am an active writer, an active reader, and an active explorer.

Can’t wait to see where this takes me!

What is your OLW?
How did it find you?
Where will it take you?

Final 2017 OLW reflection

My 2017 OLW is ROUTINE.
How did this word help me?

I wanted to have a reading routine just as strong as my writing routine is.
          I am proud that since this time last year, I have read much more. It helped that I switched jobs and now am a Reading 6 teacher in MS! But looking back over the whole year, I am proud that I did a Mock Caldecott in January with my 3rd graders and am getting ready to do a January Mock Sibert (best non-fiction) with my current 6th graders. Both surrounded me with loads of picture books that I read and read. I also did the MARCH BOOK MADNESS where we read 2 books and voted on book to go forward! I’ll do that again this coming March. I am reading and adding scrapbook-like notes about it into my Reading Notebook. And just yesterday, I noticed my local library has book clubs. I do think I will look into join a club in the new year. So, as the year is ending, my reading routine feels strong!

I wanted to have an exercise routine.
I had a fun, active summer. My husband took me to Mexico and we snorkeled and took walks on the beach. I returned and got ready for a new job – Middle School. And the school is just down the street. So I am walking to work – about a mile each way, each day. I like it when exercise is built into my day. I also am ending the year inspired to do even more. I get home from work by 4pm. My husband isn’t home until 7pm. I think I’ll renew my gym membership and look into taking a spinning class. I am happier when I fit into my clothes so I am motivated to move more!

I wanted to have a healthy eating routine.
I eat fruit and cereal every morning. Then pack a healthy lunch and take it to school to eat. It is just my husband and I at home now so I try to cook us a healthy dinner. I could lessen my white wine intake. Maybe more salads in 2018, too!

Now what will my 2018’s OLW be?
The idea of planning adventures comes to mind. A friend told me years ago about a night tour of the National Arboretum on the night of a full moon. I want to do that. There is a visiting Vermeer exhibit at The National Gallery of Art. I want to go see that. My husband and I talk about eating out once a month to try new restaurants. But then months will go by and we didn’t go. Maybe my word can connect to planning and implementing outings/adventures….I think I’m onto something…I’ll keep pondering as I have 6 more days to pick my word.

How did YOU do with your OLW?
Do you have a 2018 OLW picked?

OLW update

When I read Beth’s blog yesterday about her reflection on her OLW, I at first couldn’t even recall my word. Lately, I’ve struggled with my remembering. So much is happening and  I feel I’m on overload and I can’t think clearly. This year more than most, I really need summer vacation. However, when I put OLW in my blog’s search box, I was led HERE and quickly remembered – ROUTINE is my word! As I start to reflect, I actually feel pretty good about how this word is working in my life, despite that fact that I am not consciously remembering it!

I was hoping to have a READING ROUTINE – I definitely have read more since January 1st. Yet, the idea of posting to a padlet didn’t last more than a few days?? Not sure why it is hard for me to physically log books? However, I do have a plan. In August Katherine Paterson will be speaking at the TCRWP August Writing Institute and I got in!! So I started reading her books. She has many and by August, I plan to have them read! I even have a notebook to scrapbook my thinking around her books, something I can share with my students. I like having this goal.


Also our staff book club read 2 books so far and have 2 more to go, so that is 4 more books. (Maybe I’ll go back and add to my padlet!!)

I was hoping to have an EXERCISE ROUTINE: This is actually happening but not because I wrote about it on January 1st. My husband has planned a great 2-week vacation to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico in July to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary. So 3 weeks ago, I joined a gym and my routine is Sat, Weds and sometimes a third day. It’s a start. Nothing like swimsuit season to kick me into an exercise routine!!

I was hoping to have a HEALTHY EATING ROUTINE: Again, my husband has helped with this. My girls got him a Nutribullet for Father’s Day a year ago. At first it just sat on the counter. It was his gift so I just left it alone. During Christmas break, he read up on it, found recipes, and started using it. Now he has a routine – he shops for his ingredients, he chops and prepared the container the night before. And each morning I have a healthy smoothie, thanks to his routine! My oldest daughter is helping too. She is hanging with us for a few months and she started having Blue Apron delivered. She cooks 2 times a week using the recipe and ingredients that arrive in her Wednesday delivery. Saturday night she prepared the best fish dish with rice and kale. Yummy and healthy and all I did was set the table! Thanks to those I live with, I am eating healthy.

Despite the fact that I had to search to recall my word, I think I’m doing OK!
Do you recall your word?
How is it going for you?