VSRA Presentation

Yesterday, instead of teaching my 6th graders, I went to Richmond, VA and made a presentation with my friend and colleague, Tammy. Because of all the support we got, the day was a success.

Thanks to Tammy driving us the two hours down 95, we easily arrived.

Thanks to the helpful Marriot staff, the car was parked, our bags were checked and we had a few hours to grab lunch and rehearse before our 4pm showtime.

Thanks to Evi, our one friend also attending the conference, whose serendipitous encounter just 10 minutes after arriving amongst the 100s of teachers scattered around the lobby, helped calm our nerves. (At least one person was planning to come hear us!)

Thanks to the conference volunteers who registered us and helped us find where we were presenting when confusingly the “Learning Lab” wasn’t listed on the conference map.


Thanks to the tech supports. One man ensured we had the cords and dongle and a working mic and another shared the wifi password with us. (And for Tammy who tracked down these supports while we both envisioned the worst case scenario – our tech not working for a presentation called  Using Technology During Reading and Writing Workshop).

Thanks to Sarah, a conference attendee who volunteered to introduce us to our audience. She arrived early and helped pass out our handout and shared the wifi password and now is a new teacher friend. Afterwards we exchanged emails after we discovered she lives in the next town over from us back home.

Thanks to the 30 or so teachers who came to learn with us! They listened, asked questions and smiled as we both nervously shared examples of our students using padlet, google slides and kidblog in Reading and Writing Workshop all shared from    this padlet.


Finally, thanks also to our school, system who supported us by covering the cost of the conference and are family and friends, who sent text messages of encouragement.

As I sent out a tweet after the presentation, I was reminded that it was International Women’s Day. I’m thankful, as a women, I had the opportunity today to empower more women in their teaching work.

Now today, I get to spend another day here. But this time, I’ll be sitting in the audience to learn from Jen Serravillo and Smokie Daniels! And I’m wearing jeans and my VA sweatshirt (because happily, my team, the UVA Mens Basketball team won their first game yesterday in the ACC tournament – Go Hoos!).


Getting Ready for March!

I started writing a story about the squirrel I watched in my backyard today. But then I decided I’d wait and use that story as my March 1st Slice. So today, I’m writing about getting ready for my 5th year of participation in the TwoWritingTeachers March SOL Writing Challenge.

I scrolled through this PADLET that I made last year. I was reminded that a while ago, I had added links to writing prompts. I usually don’t like writing to a prompt. But if I get stuck, I made this list after looking through the padlet links:

  • Write about your favorite childhood toy. 
  • Write out the best or the worst day of your life. 
  • Five years from now, I will be… 
  • Which character from a book would you most like to meet and why? 
  • Who is the person from literature that you would most like to meet and talk to?  Why?  What would you like to ask? 
  • Compile a list of inanimate or animate objects to which you might compare yourself metaphorically.  (I am a windmill.  I change direction or my thoughts whenever someone talks to me…) 
  • What is your favorite kind of weather?  Why? 
  • Be a building you know well.  Talk about your life and memories. 
  • What is your hobby?  Why do you enjoy it? 
  • Write about an experience in a hospital. 
  • Write about mowing the lawn, burning leaves, or weeding the garden. 
  • If you could only speak twenty words for the rest of your life, what words would head your list and why? 
  • Write a short biography of your mother. 
  • Write a short biography of your father.
  • Write about two things that your family has taught you.
  • If you had to work in any store at your favorite mall,  which store would it be and why? 
  • Write about your favorite sport. 
  • Attach a photo and write about it
  • Bucket List for the next 5 years
  • Remember a favorite book from childhood
  • Create a menu from a fictitious restaurant. Make sure the restaurant has a theme, such as Classic Books, and the food should all be given appropriate names (e.g., “Mockingbird Pie”).
  • Make a soundtrack for your life so far. List songs that describe you or different times of your life. (Make the actual soundtrack on Spotify, etc. too!)

I also reached out to teachers I’ve worked with in the past and encouraged them to join the challenge. And told them to SAVE THE DATE – I’m planning a Slice of Life Orange Writing Celebration on Thursday, April 5th after school. If you are in Arlington, VA on the 5th, YOU are invited, too!! (Email me and I’ll send you my address!)

Why wait until the 5th to celebrate with a party? Because I’m heading to France on March 21st and I don’t return until April 3rd. My daughter, Anne who is also a slicer  lives in Marseilles, France and my husband and I are spending my Spring Break with her!! Because of this, I’m only able to post until the 22nd. Then I plan to hand write my stories while traveling. (So I guess I’m not able to participate fully this year but I’m committed to writing every day in March!)

So on Thursday, I’ll post my 1st March SOL, my squirrel story. And daily I’ll either write a slice of my daily life or use a prompt to help if I get stuck or write in my journal using my pen as I explore France. Also, I’m looking forward to reading other Slicers’ posts and leaving my comments. So much inspiration comes when I read and write lots!

What is your writing plan for March?

SOL 17 – Planning out my writing work

In two weeks and a day, I start my 4th March SOL Writing Challenged hosted by the TwoWritingTeachers.

I recall my first year.  I wasn’t sure if I’d have enough to write about for 31 straight days, so I planned by looking through old notebooks. I reread my writing and dogeared some pages. I figured if I was in a pinch, I could add one of these one day as my blog entry.

I recall a more relaxed feeling during year two. I’d done this and now knew how many ideas I’d get by reading three entries a day in order to leave comments. I wasn’t worry and did not do any planning. Last year, my third year, was the same.

But this year, a writing friend inspired me and I am back to planning. I was at my last Writing Club meeting. 3 friends and I meet once a month. We write for about 20-30 minutes and then read-aloud our writing to get feedback. Before starting to write, I stated how I planned to write about my weekend. This friend said, “I  plan to work on my sentences in my travel piece.” Then she showed us a writing book she was reading and specifically the chapter on short and long sentences. Her response struck me. As a writing teacher, I frequently ask students, “What are you working on as a writer?” (thanks to Carl Anderson!) and instead of mentioning a craft move, they say things like, “I’m writing about my weekend.” Then I try to coach them to think about what they are doing as a writer while writing about their weekend. My friend worked on her writing that day, specifically at the sentence level.  Recalling this, I decided this weekend that I, too, would use the March writing challenge as a month to work on my writing.

It helps that I have three new books filled with lessons for me to try. I sat Saturday and paged through them with post-its in hand, 31 post-its to be exact. As I saw a prompt or a lesson that interested me, I placed a post-it on that page of the book.

Happy with my plan, I posted it to twitter like this:


A follower asked if I’d share and I realized I could easily share my list by making a Padlet, my new favorite digital tool. Here’s the link

Feel free to look and even add YOUR plan or an idea or two or 31.
Feel free to share with other Slicers.

If new to padlet, here’s what my inspiration Page looks like:

Made with Padlet

Big thank you to Kathleen Sokolowski who encouraged me to share digitally!

Now with lessons in hand to guide my work, this week I plan to reread LOTS of my writing posts and pick a few I’d like to revise using some of these 31 ideas. So glad I still have two weeks and a day to plan!

What is YOUR plan for this year’s SOL Writing Challenge??

Also, Happy Valentine’s Day – Can you tell writing is something I love?!!