Slice of Life Spring Break


Real readers find a place to read that’s cozy so they can relax and immerse themselves in the world of their tale. During lessons, they’re antsy learning new skills and they’re distracted by their neighbors. But during self-chosen reading, they’re cozy wrapped up in the wanderings in their new worlds, pulled into the their characters and connecting  to the action and conversation. They’re excited to share the antics of characters as they solve their problems. Sharing time starts with a burst of babbling we tame to take turns sharing the tales: from dinosaurs to diaries, wizards to warriors, each student spins the story or information that surprises them and keeps them reading the next day.

spring chalk

And during the short break during Chalk Doodle Granny Wacky Prize, we learn what’s really on their minds.

spring break chalk

So, grab a great read, find your cozy corner, and wander through a new world during your spring break!

Slice of Life Leadership



David Geurin is a “principal and lead learner at Bolivar High School in Bolivar, Missouri.”  I enjoy learning from him, and following the link in the above tweet lead me to David’s perceptive post on leadership:

What Great Leaders Do Differently 2016

“Leaders set out to make a difference.” In education that is so true: the goal is always to make teaching and learning better, to make a difference. Leaders have a vision for reaching goals, and great leaders share that leadership. In David’s post, you’ll see that “difference” in his list.

I especially find this one important:

3. They come from every corner of the school (students, teachers, support staff, etc.—not just admin). Leadership is more about disposition than position. Great leaders help develop new leaders and share leadership roles with others.

In all the posts and discussions on leadership that I have read, these ideas are considered important to promote collaboration among participants: the value of sharing leadership roles, of listening carefully to others, and of finding leadership in others throughout the school. We learn and grow together– shared leadership grows a community of practice intent on continuous learning and improvement.

Which leadership action or trait do you consider vital to your organization?


Slice of Life I Missed Venice

3483444919_01e38b03b1_b venice

I’m in class all day. But my granddaughter currently travels throughout Italy with a backpack and an adventurous attitude. Her blog says:

 A vacation is a break from everyday life that in the end leaves you to return to the same pattern.

This is a factory reset. The goal is to come back as someone completely new, refreshed, and open minded.

To rediscover what it is to be human, not to be an American.

~Allison Fischer

That’s quite a statement. “To rediscover what it is to be human, not an American.” Imagine understanding the world from a human perspective, rather than a national or personal perspective.  I’ve heard that some where; I believe that somewhere. Imagine.

Today, she enjoyed Venice, a city I would love to visit. I missed her travels there and any live feeds while I was teaching and at the dentist. I can hardly wait to learn about her visit. She always talks to the local residents and learns about each city and place she visits. Just think of a city whose roads are rivers, or rather canals fluctuating with the sea’s tide and connecting the tiny islands from which the city arose ten years before the birth of Jesus.

I would have loved to see this city as she floated through the canals, winding through the waterways. What would that be like?  The colors in the pictures of the houses and shops, the waves reflecting the lights of the sun, the moon, the city lights, or perhaps the fishy smell from the sea, or the constant sounds of boats bouncing on the waves and clanking on the docks.  What happens when the tide recedes? So many questions about such a different type of city.

As a child, the journeys and story of the Venetian Marco Polo intrigued me — how he needed to open his mind and be more than a Venetian; I’m sure that’s why Venice has always been interesting as well.

And Allison is my Marco Polo.


I missed it.



Writing Strategy:

Wonderment: asking questions

Links:  Venice, Marco Polo, Allison’s blog, Imagine.










Image Source: Venice by Dominic Sherony

Slice of Life Cobbles



Her feet hurt.

For hours she walked upon volcanic basalt cubes, the cobblestone streets of ancient Rome. One foot carefully placed, then another. Step by step in shoes without support in the arch or ankle, she tread through the tiny alleyways winding in ancient patterns to the places most of us only dream or read about: the Colosseum and the Pantheon.

The cobblestones cover the streets in the ancient city of Rome. They are cubes of basalt, a hard volcanic rock. The basalt cubes lay spaced atop the earth below, fitting together loosely to allow them to form to the earth. Settling into the ground, the cubes are uneven in height, creating a difficult terrain, much less friendly than the soft earth on the mountains of home in Washington State, where the wet earth would cushion her step beneath the tall firs.

The well-worn cobbles, two-thousand years old, welcome travelers; their unevenness forces them to notice the rugged roadway, and to notice each step of their adventure through the winding streets. Just as the firs of home have beckoned her towards the next bend in the narrow path,  the rows of cobbles now seem to say, “You’re almost there. Look ahead– look around the corner; there’s more to see. You can do it.”

The adventure itself eases her pain as she stops for a chocolate frappe and chats with locals. She steps back onto the cobbles, joins the troupe of travelers, and turns the corner to discover a new destination ahead, which will be followed by more.

Her feet quicken.


Public Domain Image: South_east_view_of_the_Pantheon_from_Piazza_Minerva

Life in Italy: Sampietrini

About the Roman Cobbles BBC


Writing Strategy:


Develop the topic with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.

Layer each idea one upon another.


For hours she walked upon volcanic basalt cubes, the cobblestone streets of ancient Rome. One foot carefully placed, then another. Step by step in shoes without support in the arch or ankle, she tread through the tiny alleyways winding in ancient patterns to the places most of us only dream or read about.

walk — ON cobblestone streets—  BY foot — EACH step –WILL tread — THROUGH alleyways —  TO places

Alliteration:  — repeated beginning consonant sounds –

s – Step by step in shoes without support

c – cobblestones cover

d- discover a new destination

Strong Verbs:  walk, tread, creating, welcomes, beckoned, steps, joins

Slice of Life Heard in Class



“How do you group the images?”

Student runs across the room

and demonstrates.

“I can’t get the color to change.”  Teacher demonstrates.

“Enibe knows how to change the color

if you need to do that.”

“Could I put this part on my blog?”

“What are you writing?”

“I’m explaining my characters.”

“Take a screenshot and add that

to your explanation on your blog.”

“Listen to this.”

“What is it?”

“A good description.”

“Of what?”

“The hike with my dad.

‘The hike off the mountain was hard.

When we started it was not too bad,

but about halfway down,

the mountain turned into a rocky slope.

Rocks were sliding down the hill

and SLAMMING into trees.

It sounded like thunder.'”

“Include that in your Writing Strategies!

It’s a great ‘sight’ description with sound!”



Writing Strategies

Dialogue: Classroom conversations

Format:  Back and forth using left and right justification.


Scrambled Secrets #sol

7089121211_b8e1898dd9_nWhat’s your favorite breakfast?

I like to break my fast with scrambled eggs. I don’t want any fluff for breakfast, not that silly rabbit’s Trix in it’s bright pink package or its friend the chocolate puffs.

Nope. I love the aroma of scrambled eggs freshly fluffed.

I can imagine the morning now. I pull out the medium glass bowl, the middle bowl of the turquoise pyrex set Scott’s mom had.

I reach for the medium-sized frying pan and toss in a pad of butter, turning the heat up to just below medium high.

I crack open one egg and gently let it plop into the bowl. I repeat with one more egg. Then I add an egg and a half of cream.  What’s an egg and a half?  I imagine how much cream would fill an egg shell, that’s what.  With a small wisk, I whip the eggs fluffy.

Now the choices. I choose a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese — the real stuff too, not “light.” I sprinkle in about a tablespoon of dill weed and a half teaspoon of tarragon. I slowly stir those in with the mess of eggs, just as the butter begins to sizzle in the pan.

Carefully, I pour from the bowl so the fluff of eggs just slip across the pan, sizzling a song the yellow mass can dance to while I return to the fridge for the last item: whipped cream cheese. I scoop a dollop and drop it onto the eggs in the center. I repeat four more times around that center dollop, and them begin to swish up the eggs with a wooden spoon to finish the scramble, smooth, not lumpy.

I swish the scrambles out of the pan and onto plates, topped with two sprigs of chives. The aroma wafts up as I bring the plates to the breakfast table. Salt is added then to taste. “Mmmm,” Scott mumbles as he sprinkles his salt.

Now that’s a good morning, where all the secret choices scrambled together create a wonderful and pleasing effect. It’s rather like the classroom, when the small choices allowed in kids’ learning allow each student the chance to scramble up ideas and skills on their terms, becoming focused on making just the write word choices. The sizzle in the classroom sharing those choices are not fluff, but are the stuff of engaged authors, a wonderful and pleasing effect for all of us.

What about your breakfast? Does its secrets motivate your day?



My writing choices:

Description Sight: “I pull out the medium glass bowl, the middle bowl of the turquoise pyrex set Scott’s mom had.”

Description Sound: “the butter begins to sizzle in the pan.”

Details: I like to break my fast with scrambled eggs. I don’t want any fluff for breakfast, not that silly rabbit’s Trix in it’s bright pink package or its friend the chocolate puffs.

Dialogue: “‘Mmmm,’ Scott mumbles as he sprinkles his salt.”

Alliteration/Consonance [m and s]: “‘Mmmm,’ Scott mumbles as he sprinkles his salt.”

And did you notice how I expanded the idea into the classroom? How I compared the choices in my scrambled eggs and its culinary delight to the choices made by students  and their sharing and engagement.

What writing choices do you see?


Image Source: Flickr CC 2.0  by Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife

#edblogaday Encourager

dave_willis_encouragerMay 8th Prompt

What did you learn from Teacher Appreciation Week?

I learned that teachers are encouragers.  I learned that those who understand teaching are encouragers. I learned that those who write about the realities of teaching are encouragers.

Why? Because that’s a key role of a teacher: to encourage.

And despite all the critics of education and of teachers, back in the classroom teachers are still encouragers.  Teachers don’t give up on others, on themselves, or on their students.

And those who encourage others offer hope — hope that may be the opening of a dream, the unlocking of a blocked learning, or the boosting of confidence to make it through the day.

A simple word of encouragement unfolds hope and confidence.

It’s the constant in each moment of teaching.


Image Credit:  Encouragement / Critic See Dave Willis

Encouragement / Hope / Confidence  Sheri Edwards

WC: 142


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