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:

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  • 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



I add my Monday sticker to my chart
and notice just 6 more remain.
Just 6 more days in this writing challenge.

I look up at the sky and see the half-moon shining.
Is he thinking about how many days until he gets to rest?
Until he’s half again? Until he’s back to shining full?

I step outside wearing just a t-shirt and a fleece jacket.
Yet the morning air is colder than expected.
And the car themomoter reads 39 degrees.
Is the morning air wondering how long until her warmer jet stream arrives?
Wondering, once it arrives, how long it will stay?
Wondering how long until it changes to the stifling heat of the next season?

In my classroom, I add to the day’s agenda.
Next to homeroom I write: Catchup Tuesday
Four days until the quarter ends.
Four more days to turn in any missing work.

My 6th graders realize after this week
Just one more quarter.
Then just two more years in middle school.
Or 8 more quarters.
Then just 4 more years of High school.

It seems the same for the moon, the air around me and those in front of me,
Always counting down.


March Madness

I rushed home from school on Friday.
I turn on the TV, ready to watch.
Alone, I text a family member, also a UVA alum:


At 3:10pm, I sit and watch my favorite team play.
As the 1st half ends, it starts to feel like deja vu???
Not again:(
Another family member, another UVA alum, sends me a text:


At the half, I go made popcorn.
At the half, I watched sleet begin to fall outside?
Yes, heavy sleet starts to fall!
Wasn’t it sunny a moment ago?
The outside world seems to be mimicing the on-court world in Columbia, SC.

Then the sleet stops and the sun comes out again.
Then my team returns for the 2nd half and wins the game!

March Madness is the perfect alliterative phrase for this time of year!

NF is fascinating!

“Today, read your new nonfiction chapter book, taking time to jot down what you find fascinating. I’ll set the timer. When it goes off in 35 minutes, we will take time to talk about what we find fascinating. Off you go…”

And they did go off and read, after they took the book they indicated was their choice after yesterday’s Book Tasting lesson.

In three of my classes, I took a book and did the work, too. Full disclosure: I love fiction, especially realistic and historical fiction. I currently find I spend most of my time reading the genre of fiction. However, after yesterday, I am turning the corner to embrace nonfiction.

Google It – I found it fascinating that the two grad school students at Stanford were looking for something to explore in 1996 when the world wide web was only 4 years old. Perfect timing for them to figure out a way to create a organizing system.

Lost Boy, Lost Girl – I found it fascinating how the South Sudanese Dinka culture accepts a man having many wives. It is also fascinating how hard the Dinka work to protect their cattle because raising cows and being farmers is their way of life. When given a choice between drought, flood or war, it explained how they would pick war because drought and flood hurts their farming way of life more.

A Few Red Drops – I found it fascinating that even though Chicago in 1919 did not have segregated bathrooms and buses like was occurring in the South, neighborhoods and beaches did seem to have a racial invisible line.

I’m looking forward to Monday when I can read more of all three of these books. I hope my 6th graders feel the same. Together, I hope we can both become the kind of readers who start and finish nonfiction chapter books.


“Where is this? Is this just a made up place? I mean it sounds like people are getting shot all the time. Are there really places like that?

“Sure…like Aleppo.”

“I think it’s Chicago.”

“Guys, we live in a bubble in Arlington. There are places like this.”

I tell the author that this was the conversation in my room as I read aloud his book.
“What do I tell them? I’m just a white teacher living and working in North Arlington, a mostly upper mid-class white school.”

“Tell them this book is based on a shooting that happened in Suitland, MD, just miles away from your school. And keep reading and talking!”

Then he signed my Reading Notebook page that I made after reading his book.


Thank you, TCRWP for bringing Jason Reynolds to speak and sign books on Saturday.
So glad I got to have a conversation with him. So glad I get to read aloud his books with my students. Reading and discussing to understand all the places where…


What Color are You Feeling?

I heard Yale professor, Marc Brackett speak on Saturday. He is know for his RULER Approach. He was the closing Keynote at TCRWP Reunion Saturday in Riverside Church.


I knew nothing of his work. Since Saturday, I keep thinking, “What color am I now?” after he introduced me to his Ruler Method – a Mood Meter. The x-axis is a measure of how pleasant one feels. The y-axis is a measure of how much energy one has.

Screen Shot 2019-03-20 at 6.09.08 AM

YELLOW – how I felt after I made my presentation at VSRA.
GREEN – how I felt listening to Marc. I was so tired by Saturday afternoon but loved my day of learning at Teachers College.
RED – how I felt the day after my Fair at school as I read an email complaint and tried to remind myself that you can’t please everyone but I was still annoyed.
BLUE – how I felt standing on my crowded subway car after leaving Riverside Church as a man very, very loudly cursed others blocking his way (the F-word seemed to be his every-other word) and sadly the rest of the subway car felt like me – powerless to move him from his RED rage.

Then another man, probably feeling BLUE, too and holding a jar, asking for spare change spoke to the RED-raged man. Why you need to shout, man? Sure, it is annoying to have the doorway blocked? As I stood frozen by the shouting, the two men continued to converse, one loudly, the other calmly and soon the loud man was laughing. Then in two stops he exited the train and I felt relief and GREEN.

Marc reminded the 2,000 teachers gathered at Riverside church how kids can’t learn when they are afraid. He also spoke to us. As teachers, we can’t teach when we feel exhausted and annoyed. Then he shared how through breathing, eating well, sleeping enough and exercising we can set ourselves up for more YELLOW/GREEN times. And then we can be a role model to our students.

I’m glad the panhandler was a role model for my subway car on Saturday.

At the Subway Turnstile

As I sit down to write, I had a plan. I would work on revision. I’d take this story written in another March and try to tell it again but from a different point of view. I was orally rehearsing it in the shower. I had a plan for how would sound telling it from the point of view of the woman in line with me at the grocery store. Instead, I just reread the story. I like it as it is, I guess because it is my story, my perspective.

However, rereading it takes me back to Friday and another women. So instead, I’ll tell that story now. I guess that other story helped me to brainstorm this story!

As the subway doors closed, I glanced at the map. My stop is the next stop, I remind myself. I glance into my purse to ensure my metro card in tucked into its space in my wallet and I zip my purse closed. I pat my right front thigh to feel my cell phone in my pocket and I stand and walk to the exit door. In moments it opens and I exit and look to the right and left. Seeing the EXIT sign to the left, I head toward it. A set of stairs appear and I head down them, remembering that here in Queens the track went above ground so it is down I step to get to the street level.

Then I see her. As I walk through the turnstile, a woman shorter than I am with dark black hair and tanned skins smiles and says something in a language I don’t understand and moves her hand. The motion of her hand mimics the movement one makes to swipe a card to get into the subway.

My mind recalls the $13.75 that showed on the screen when I entered to ride seven stops back. It also recalls how the subway rules are different in NYC. Unlike D.C, you just swipe to get in and don’t need to again swipe to get out. Because of this, multiple people can use the same card. It also recalls my recent reading lessons about power imbalances and being an upstander.

Instantly, I unzip my purse, pull out my card sticking up from my wallet and hand it to the lady. She smiles, swipes herself in and hands the card back to me saying one word I do understand, “Gracias.”


Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 at Kennedy Center

I was born in 1963, October.
I saw a play yesterday set in 1963, September.
It revolved around a real moment in history, the killing of four girls in Alabama.
The next month, August, 1963 was the March on Washington and the infamous King speech.
The month after my birth, November, 1963, was the assassination of John F. Kennedy. What a mess…what a time…

Currently, 2019 also seems a messed-up time in my country.
Maybe times are always messed up.
Maybe that’s why seeing this play about another time can inspire.

The play ends with the call to “Stand Up”, a theme running through my Reading class right now. It’s another reminder for me about how, through story, we can learn and think and be inspired to a better world.

For more information about the making of the play and for tickets.
(show runs through 3/24.)

Signs of Spring

As I headed to the bakery for scones to go with my Sunday morning, I noticed signs of spring.

A blue jay flying in and out of my shrubs.

Green buds all over my liliac bush.

Pink covering the branches of a cherry tree.

Then as I parked the car outside of my favorite bakery, a man stood tall playing his bagpipe and dressed for the day making it sound like spring.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Happy Spring, 2019!

Train to Queens

Four abreast and as many or more deep…all hustling to get there…where…somewhere…all so quickly.

I’ve been in Manhattan for about half an hour but above ground for zero minutes.

Walked out of Amtrak tunnel. Walked to the subway tunnel. Got on the 1 to Times Square. Got on the 7 headed to Queens, a borough I’m visiting for the first time.

I looked around and noticed all the shades of the faces on the subway train, all mostly shades of brown, packed onto the subway car. Looking from face to face, I am reminded how the conference speakers from yesterday reminding me to include diverse books in my classroom. This is why, I thought, and I started to imagine all the stories each of these people on the subway could tell.

It is so natural to categorize. It’s a skill I teach when doing research. Place same facts together. Yet looking at all in my subway car, I feel the harm that comes from doing it with people.

Suddenly the train exited the tunnel and was above ground, crossing the river on a raised track. I saw the sky finally, blue and sun-filled. I looked to the right and noticed a man holding an accordion. It is quite loud but somehow sounded delightful on the train. I reached into my purse to find a dollar and gave it to him as my tip for playing a song for me.

As I exited at my stop, I’m invigorated to be living in such a diverse, music-filled world!