#OLW2023 – Approximate

For my 9th year, I choose APPROXIMATE as my One Little Word (OLW).

Here are the words I chose over the years:
2015 – Responsiveness
2016 – Transparency
2017 – Routine
2018 – Active
2019 – Confident
2020 – Here / Hear
2021 – Structure
2022 – Healthy
2023 – Approximate

I was inspired to choose this word as I learned about Brian Cambourne’s Conditions for Learning from Colleen Cruz as a TCRWP Digital Institute. When I reviewed the eight conditions again APPROXIMATE pulled at me. I recall her tellng a story about a student learning in writing workshop about the period punctuation mark. After the lesson, the student placed a period on the far right hand side of every line of their written story. On the one hand, this shows that the student has not learned the correct way to use this punctuation. It goes at the end of a sentence of writing, not at the end of each row on lined paper. However, using Cambourne’s list of conditons, the student is APPROXIMATING how to use a period. With further use and more demonstration, they will learn how to use a period correctly. I want to have the mondset that what one does at first is NOT wrong, just a step along the learning path.

I sometimes find myself avoiding to try something if I am not sure I can do it correctly. I want to instead, be open to taking risks, try and be OK if I only approxiamte the task. Perfection is not the goal. Learning is the goal. Learning along the path, I want to celebrate when I approximate learning tasks!

After looking up the verb form in the synonym dictionary, the idea of being allied, a twin, an equal is also listed. This appeals to me, too. Being supportive is implied with these words and is a mantra I strive to attain. The next 3 Saturday’s I’ve signed up to learn about Black History from both Colleen Cruz and Sonya Cherry Paul. My first official LEARNING in 2023!! I’m glad to take this learning risk! (Space is still open and I KNOW the learning from these two brilliant women will be amaizing. If interested, click HERE.)

This year, in my work, my personal life and as I support of my family, I will be ok with how I learn and strive to be supportive.
In 2023, APPROXIMATE will be my guiding OLW. How about you?

OLW reflection

It will be my 9th year to choose a One Little Word (OLW).

Here are the words I chose over the years:
2015 – Responsiveness
2016 – Transparency
2017 – Routine
2018 – Active
2019 – Confident
2020 – Here / Hear
2021 – Structure
2022 – Healthy

What will I pick for 2023???

Maybe first I will reflect on 2022. How has the word “healthy” served me?

Looking back, I picked for the word healthy.

I wanted to continue to move my body to stay physically healthy and in good shape
To be honest, this still isn’t a main focus and/or habit in my life. Not sure why I can brush my teeth every day but can’t go to the gym or daily take a walk. However, I did walk lots this year (mostly on the weekends.) I did take a hiking vacation to New Mexico and I could keep up. But I know I could drink less wine and move my body more. .

I wanted to continue to cook to provide nutritious, healthy meals.
I will give myself a gold star for this one. I have taught myself how to cook healthy salmon dinners and have experimented with adding more salads and fruits to our rotating dinner menus. I do like to cook when I have time. I have never embraced pintrest as a way to collect recipes. Instead, I started this padlet during the pandemic and continue to add recipes to it as I find them. Then when at the grocery store, I can easily open the recipe and purchase all the healthy ingredients.

I wanted to continue to walk and read and write, three tonics that keep me mentally healthy. 
Another gold star!! I just checked the wordpress dashboard and I posted 71 times to my blog! I just checked my Goodreads app and 46 books. Could be higher but I’m proud of all the many books I read inspired by author visits or authors met at conferences/book festivals. Ansd I continue to take walks to the bakery shop on Sat. mornings and to the park by my house to see the rose garden.

I wanted to start to garden, a way to create blooms as a healthy creation.
Still just a dream. I did a little gardening in pots at school with my 7th graders while we read Seedfolk by Paul Fleischman.Maybe this next year, I can give it a try at home.

I wanted to organize all my finances as a healthy way to prosper and flourish.
A third gold star. I can honestly say I understand my finances, especially my retirement account better. My hisband and I met with a financial planner but did not get anything started with him yet. We agreed to touch base with him in the new year. I will admit, I still could understand finances better!

All in all, HEALTHY served me well as my 2022 OLW.

As I try to choose for 2023, I visited Erika’s blog as I recalled how one year she listed MANY words. Because she tags, it was easy for me to search OLW and find her 2021 post ro see a long list of words. CURIOSITY pulls at me. This got me thinking about wanting to continue to be a life-long learner. This got me thinking about Brian Cambourne’s Conditions for Learning (which I learned about at a Technology Institue from Colleen Cruz). Seeing the eight conditions again got me thinking. The word APPROXIMATE pulls at me.

I change it to a verb and look it up in the synonym dictionary.

The idea of trying and getting near, close, resembling, matching is appealing to me.
The pressure of perfection is removed.

The idea of being allied, a twin, an equal is appealing, too.
Being supportive is emphasized in this view, a mantra I strive for

I think my OLW for 2023 has found me.
I could focus on it and celebrate when I approximate as I continue to learn.
I could notice my approximations, acting in a way to try, even if I can only approximate the task.
I’ll keep mulling this over…but I think I have my OLW23.
Check back on Tuesday, January 3rd!

How did you do with your 2022 OLW?
Will you pick a OLW for 2023?

PS – Thanks Erika!

Photo taken on my November trip to New Mexico.

2022 OLW

It’s my 8th year to choose a One Little Word (OLW).
2015 – Responsiveness
2016 – Transparency
2017 – Routine
2018 – Active
2019 – Confident
2020 – Here / Hear
2021 – Structure
2022 – Healthy

Looking back, the word structure served me well during 2021. While dealing with living in a Covid world, I used the structure of this writing community to keep me grounded. I was able to write every day in March plus 21 times more. I also was able to write with two friends regularly using the structure of Google Meets. I was able to read and then structure my thinking into a notebook page. Asking first, What structure should I use? allowed me to organize my thinking better on the page. I was able to use my favorite online structure, Padlet, to organize my school life, my cooking life, and even a virtual summer book club. I also used structure to name my walking routine which kept me sane during the pandemic. My walking structure included various hikes through my neighborhood with a podcast flowing through my iPhone earbuds and many stops to photograph the colors of the season. As I reflect, saying structure as a mantra all year long did provided me with the needed order during a very uncertain year.

Looking ahead, the word healthy has found me. It is my wish to be healthy in many ways. I want to continue to move my body to stay physically healthy and in good shape. I want to continue to cook to provide nutritious, healthy meals. I want to continue to walk and read and write, three tonics that keep me mentally healthy. I want to start to garden, a way to create blooms as a healthy stimulation. I want to organize all my finances as a healthy way to prosper and flourish.

Happy 2022.
HEALTHY is my OLW. What’s your’s?

OLW 2021 Reflection

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

I have no clue what word will find me and guide me during 2022. But I still have a few weeks to go before naming it. Today, I celebrate the word STRUCTURE in words and photos which guided me well in 2021!

This 5-part Literacy Log became the structure I use now to post and reflect on my reading, writing, viewing, listening and speaking life each month. (Thank you, Tenille Shade @tenilleshare!) I love how the structure captures ALL aspects of my literate life. And month by month, as I look at each section, I am monitated to keep my literacy life strong!

I am proud that I presented last month. However, after presenting in 2019 and 2020, I told myself to just take a break and attend in 2021. Then NCTE announced the theme (which is like a structure) and it changed my mind. I am proud of sharing my antiracist teaching story along with my colleagues virtually at #NCTE2021. (Here’s the link to our 65-min presentation).

Maybe this is taking a broad view but I am proud of how this one skillet allowed me to structure and create amazing meals this year. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet yet, I recommend getting one! If you have a favorite recipe you make in yours, do share!

All year, as I worked and played, the mantra of structure organized and kept me going. How about you? How did you do with your OLW?!!

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: