sol17 DoodleaDay 5 DigiLit Sunday

FullSizeRender 45 doodleaday_nature.jpg

Today is Sunday. It’s great for two reasons: Margaret Gibson’s DigiLit Sunday and it’s the best day of the week for me. And today’s DigiLit Sunday is about Slice of Life, a March writing challenge by the The Two Writing Teachers that asks us to write every day in March about a slice of our lives, a moment in time.

So today I ask you to join in the writing, to write, because it is “hard fun,” as Donald Murray shares, and because writing clears and clarifies the mind. And in these challenging times, we need that. Won’t you join?

I love Sundays. For most of our Sundays together, my husband and I enjoy the light of day shining through the window as we sip our coffee, his black and mine with cream. We spend hours reading and conversing on any topic: news, politics, history, nature, discoveries old and new, how things work, philosophy. It’s relaxing and freeing to have no hurry pushing us.


Not only does Scott brew the coffee, he also makes breakfast: eggs, many ways. So the day is extra special for me.

In years past, we had hopped in the car to visit grandkids two hours away — but they do grow up 🙂 so we do that less.

Many times, during the school year, I would spend the afternoon and evening on planning for my next week as middle school teacher. But now, I’m retired. Note to teachers: take the day off; your time is precious. [Not that I regret it– I loved it, but teachers shouldn’t have to work so many hours.]

Most of the time we take a walk or hike around town or around the hills of our little rural town.


Mule Deer in the credit union field

coulee art.JPG

Coulee Art [and yes, we probably know who did this]

Many of my nature photos come from these walks [which we now take almost daily]. This Sunday, these fall leftovers still shared their colors:


Oregon Grape


Oak Leaf [not native to our area, but planted in the park]

Other times we hop in the car for that traditional pastime from both our childhoods: the Sunday drive. Today we drove along Banks Lake, which is still mostly frozen over from the cold winter.


Banks Lake in the Grand Coulee [an irrigation reservoir with year round fishing]


Steamboat  Rock [history]

Banks Lake is surrounded by the Grand Coulee walls. [See Glacial Lake Missoula history]


Moon over Coulee Wall

Following the highway we turned off at Dry Falls, the largest ever waterfall, but created during the Ice Ages.


Dry Falls State Park [part of Glacial Lake Missoula history]

That lake is 350 ft below viewing area!

There we turned around and headed the long way home around through the plateau wheat fields around Hartline, Almira, and Wilbur. We detoured to Govan to take this picture of what’s left of a one-room school house:


Govan School House at Sunset

Sundays are a Slice of Life each week. My walks are a Slice of Life each day. In these days of darkness with a totalitarian leaning president, be sure to take care of yourself. In everyone’s life, to celebrate and to reflect, write your moments, your Slice of Life. Be with your family; enjoy nature, whether you walk the cement jungle or the rural trail. And share your moments and their relief; let the doing, writing and sharing renew your spirit and connect you with others.

As a teacher, my students loved Slice of Life; I’ve written about it here and here. For strategies for writers to revise their slice moments, see the work of Ralph Fletcher and Steve Peha. They both provide for strategies for writers workshop and the six  traits of writing. Through Slice of Life and writing strategies, students learn what Donald Murray expressed, “Writing is hard fun.”  So often over the years, students have said during writing class after sharing, “You’re right, Ms Edwards, writing is hard fun.”

So, for reflection and learning, for hope in good and hard times, write for some hard fun.


Thunder rumbling

Angry words

Daily insults

Inhumane turmoil

Get up

Stand up

Walk out





People laughing

Welcomed smiles

Daily kindness

Community cares

Lift up

Stand up

Walk in

Shake hands




Reflect inward

Connect thoughts

Write down moments

Humanity grows.



Coffee Photo: Sheri Edwards, AttributionNoncommercialShare AlikeFlickr

Deer Photo, by Scott Hunter, used with permission

Nature and Drive photos, Sheri Edwards [Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike

Doodle by Sheri Edwards


This post is:

Part of Slice of Life 2017 by The Two Writing Teachers

Part of DoodleaDay by Royan Lee— today:  Make a stain with a drink; Doodle it into something.

Doodling Song: It’s a Beautiful Morning by The Rascals


Part of Margaret Gibson’s DigiLit Sunday


#IMMOOC Building Mindsets


Kevin Hodgson created an #IMMOOC Innovative Mindset Google Plus Community for conversation, sharing, and collaboration about spreading this idea of Innovation, based on the book study mooc started by George Couros for his book,The Innovator’s Mindset .

Kevin challenged us to begin thinking of innovation, and to think of our ideas of innovation as an image.

That simple request forces us to step outside of our thinking, to see things in a new light. It reminded me of  my mom’s old book of puzzles. I loved it. My favorite puzzles consisted of simple sketches that suggested something. What do you think the above image is?

Unflattening the world has been part of my life – my mom could see beyond the obvious, and helped me look at the bigger picture. As a young mother rushed in front of us in the grocery line, mom would say, “She needs to get her back home for baby’s nap.” That might not have been true, but mom always took a step back to see a bigger idea and a step into the shoes of others.

Is the image a bear climbing a tree? A giraffe walking by your window? A snake slithering across your beach towel?

We need to step around to see. Turn things around, and get a different view. Try to think from another’s perspective. Believe in your own! And as Kevin asks of us, see things from another perspective.

I think that is part of innovation, especially with technology, because technology removes boundaries and barriers, bringing the possibility for all ideas to be shared, remixed, and repurposed, building on what worked, and often in collaboration with others, to find a better way towards an issue, strategy, or communication. Innovation builds on the ideas that went before and tweaks them, changes them, steps apart from them to better the world in which we live and work together.


I tried to create that concept in my image as a response to Kevin’s challenge. I opened an iPhone app [NetSketch] and started drawing lines and shapes to represent ideas, the lighter colors the earlier ideas later connected and stretched in new ways, with the bolder colors leading the developed change, a forward flowing change kept as it bettered my [our] world with continued innovative developments.

You can see other people’s drawings here.

Imagine this in schools — it’s not an overnight occurrence, although some of the choices may be simple and easy to quickly innovate; it’s more than one thing — it’s something that becomes part of what you do daily . It’s part of a system of thinking, doing, and creating that is better than before.

To see an example of this, read Kevin’s post, “#IMMOOC Go and Find Out.” He shares the process of change in a project for middle school students, whose creations developed from paper to powerpoint to games over a period of years, as technology provided the possibilities for the innovation. Most impressive, as I found on the project website, is that the project focussed on all learners. Listen to the collaborating teachers explain how the gaming project helped struggling writers.

I think key to this innovation is the collaborative inquiry approach by these teachers. Had Kevin worked on this alone, fewer students would have been impacted, and the project would have probably stayed in his repertoire, rather than become a part of a larger change in the school or district.  Innovation cannot exist in isolation. Without a school culture of shared leadership and collaboration, I wonder if innovation can occur? Part of innovation is the building of ideas, sharing of ideas, and remixing of ideas, in collaboration with others to make a difference that’s better than before.

In Innovator’s Mindset on LOC 439 of 3535, Kindle Edition, I found a great chart. I searched and found it on Twitter:

It was part of #cpchat [Connected Principals chat] and #suptchat [Superintendents chat] and co-created by George and Bill Ferriter [@plugusin ]

Technology is a tool, not a leadership outcome.  ~George Couros

Principals and superintendents in these chats are leading change with technology as a tool to do so. Collaboration, reflection, and openness are key, and I think must be part of a goal of innovation. I hope our book study, blogs, and conversations help those of us in classrooms and in the community learn how to extend that leadership.

If you’re part of a school and are joining in this mindset journey, let your leaders know — your tech coordinators, principals, and superintendents. Share your ideas. Share your blog. Ask to share in staff meetings and to provide professional development. Get others involved. Help others make that mindset perspective leap. It’s a key aspect of innovative change.


Unflattening Ideas from

my other blog

What Else:

#clmooc Unflattening


Still thinking: Response on Digital Writing

Thanks, Kevin for the quote tweet and comment here as we continue the conversation on “What is digital writing?” It’s a start.

I’m considering your words in your comment in this post.

My own grapple keeps me wondering and thinking and trying to fall into the trap of getting too comfortable.

It’s true that those of us who write digitally find the tools ubiquitous; we are comfortable with the process and tools and must remember those who are just learning, especially adults. Our students seem to see, observe, choose, and do from our assignments and modeling. They often suggest tools for us, and we guide them in more demanding and intellectual use of them. We are comfortable in these shoes, and continue our forward walk. It is Kevin’s thoughtful questioning that leads reflection so that others may begin the journey. At least, that is my goal, to nudge the novices into the adventure students already explore.

For example, now you have me reconsidering my words about a blog post. You may be right. Your insight to not just bring design into the equation, but to make it a central idea, seems right, to me, too. But if we are not the designer, if we use a template made by others and just add words into the template, does design matter?

This is a great question — templates. I’m reminded of years ago when our school subscribed to a website platform for schools. It included pages for  teachers to communicate to families in a newsletter/blog format, places for lesson plans [and diligent monitoring by administration], and much more. It was designed so teachers could just add text and perhaps a photo. In order for it to work for me, I had to search for html coding because the ‘template’ was so rigid (and boring). I wanted to share and show what we were doing in class in images, video, and text way back then. That’s a template without flexibility, and dictated to me; not my digital writing. Fortunately, we dropped that expensive cost and became a Google Apps for Education school.

Yes, I can choose a blog — and I can choose the design that fits my purpose for my audience. I can tweak the colors and display, choose the content of the widgets, and determine the content of my posts. So I’m thinking that this allows the author the design choices of a digital writer.  I’m not sure about other LMS [Learning Management Systems] because we don’t use them, except for Google Classroom, which is the classroom; the parent and community information are posted in blogs and websites. Are LMS rigid in teacher design of his/her classroom website or blog, and thus limit the design choices of the authors? Does design matter? I think so.

What about blog design when it comes to an RSS reader, which strips all design from the source in order to stream the words and image only?

I’m thinking this is the researchers choice — to gather information, which is part of the design and digital writing process. It’s part of the system the author chooses for connections and research. It serves its purpose for those gathering information, inspiration, and collaboration.

Certainly, Margaret’s point about expanded audience plays a role … yet, I can create a piece of digital writing (say, a poem with hyperlinks and embedded audio and video) and share it with no one, and so, it is digital writing with no audience.

Because digital writing is at first personal, until work requirements and academic protocol causes our revision to those mandates, that makes no audience but oneself as important as any audience. Writing helps us grow our ideas, values, and beliefs. I once participated in a group with Ben Wilkoff and others calling ourselves “Open Spokes.” We wrote personal statements as videologues which we shared with each other to build on the ideas. So the audience at first was ourselves and then shared for our fellowship. Writers keep their ideas for fuel when needed. Today’s non-audience may be tomorrow’s team audience.

Like Kevin, Margaret, and Karen LaBonté, I continue my digital writing and its many nodes.






#edblogaday This is My Teacher


Day 6 Topic: How will we know when our profession is respected?

Answer 1:

I know our profession is respected when I’m out in the community and a student runs over to me and says to his or her friends or family, “This is my teacher.”

Answer 2:

I will know when our profession is respected when I’m out in a community meeting and someone says, “Let’s ask her; she’s a teacher.”

Answer 3:

I will know when our profession is respected when I’m in a school planning committee on any level, local, state, national, international, and teachers are expected to guide the direction, solution, and policy based on their known expertise.

Answer 4:

I will know when our profession is respected when teachers’ assessments are the most important data points.

Answer 5:

I  will know when our profession is respected when everyone believes, “Teachers reach into the future; let them teach.”

What’s your answer?

Word Count: 150

Please join #140WC

See margin for information.





It’s summer:









I am enlightened by my reading, writing, conversing, and connecting. It spawns new ideas for next year, focusing on Common Core State Standards as ideas shape themselves. I see a path ahead of me filled with old debris to be discarded, but old concepts to integrate into the goal, the light ahead, an opening to reach and enjoy renewed.

I stand atop the ravine, surrounded by Virginia Creeper vines with chattering squirrels above me. I know I choose the path best needed for my students. I know that I am not alone, for I am a connected learner.

Besides reading [Reinventing Writing by Vicki Davis for one example ], I have been writing posts for my #clmooc experience and for the CORElaborate Blogathon. I wrote and shared poetry.  I walked around my neighborhood for inspiration. I helped save the trees in our park by writing a tweet.

Inspiration is all around. One place is #clmooc. That is a Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaboration. I was involved as a participant and as part of the support team. Read about my #clmooc experience and learn about Connected Learning. It really isn’t anything new — except in how we are connected. Not through snail mail pen pals, not through TV news, not by traveling places. Although all those are available, in today’s world, we connect online through Google Hangouts, online communities like the clmooc Google Plus community, through social media, and through blogs, tweets, photo apps, etc. I can be connected right now to my friends around the world with a click of my mouse. That’s what has changed. That means we can pursue our interests, with peers around the world, for shared purposes, to learn academic goals, in an openly networked community to create products of interest for personal or societal reasons.

So education has changed, and I’m ready. I’m ready and supported and inspired by my clmooc Google Plus community and my Twitter PLN, as I reciprocate the collaboration. In fact, some of the middle school educators have started a community of our own: Connect in the Middle at MightyBell. We’ve started small circles to plan and implement curriculum on Social Justice, ePortfolios, and Connect2Learn, a collaborative blog for student writing prompts. If you work with middle school students, please consider joining.


What about you? What inspired you and your learning this summer? Let’s connect our paths and share what we’ve learned!




CCSS Study

Our school moves to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)?  What does that mean? How do these standards change the way I teach and students learn? What do I need to do to implement these standards?

Our previous state standards included grade level expectations that mostly do fit into the CCSS as parts of the deeper, more complex standards of CCSS.  It is important to note that the CCSS do have authors: David Coleman and Sue Pimentel. And the document ratified by the forty-six states states, “the Standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach” (2010a, 6).

To help me implement the CCSS, I’m studying the book, Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement by Lucy Calkens, Mary Ehrenworth, and Chris Lehman.

The first thing is to undertand that this implementation does fall into the purview of principals and teachers, who are free to use the tools and knowledge of their professional judgments to determine how to meet these goals.

The CCSS demand of even young students the ability to analyze multiple texts and explain the relationships between ideas and author’s craft. Students need to read lots of types of texts and books, engage in conversations in which they support their ideas with evidence from the text, both literal and inferred. Reading and writing are equally important because higher-order comprehension and critical thinking matters. This focus emphasizes the importance of critical citizenship — expecting evidence, noting viewpoints, discerning misinformation.  The curriculum will build, a spiral of goals that will take time as teachers plan together to lead students into deeper critical thinking about more complex texts so that students grow into asking their own key questions and think and write about their analysis of multiple sources when researching their answers. No longer is just the reading and writing teacher responsible for language arts; cross-curricular and interdisciplinary units will help guide students to become critical thinkers of complex information.

We will need to look at what we already do well, and set goals to improve. We’ll need to find the gaps and create a plan to reform our curriculum with an emphasis in a spiral, cross-curricular reading and writing. Writing is a tool for thinking across disciplines. An hour writing workshop and at least forty-five minutes of choice reading time is vital.  We will need many high-interest just-right books. Running records will indicate where each student is, and we’ll need to focus on higher-level comprehension — reading for meaning — at all levels. Writing focus on narrative, explanation, and persuasive forms. In reading and writing, understanding points of view is critical to understanding reading and communicating clearlyK

Look at levels two and three of Webb’s depth-of-knowledge hierarchy for an indication of what is expected in the CCSS.  Math 3-5   Reading    Bloom/Webb  Assessments  21C DOK   NYCDOE DOK    Students need to be able to sort, categorize, compare, contrast, evaluate, analyze, reason.

The CCSS includes nine reading skills — analyze them across grade levels to see how each successive grade level expectation builds on what went before, and all expect the student to base understanding directly from text evidence and inference, not from a reader’s connection to that text. CCSS skill 10 refers to grade level text reading across the nine skills. Everything is about making meaning. Students need to converse in analytic, text-based discussions; read-alouds and “accountable talk” form a basis for creating lessons in manageable steps with feedback and ample practice in a variety of texts and text complexity.  Hopefully students can form book clubs in teams or with partners so they learn to carry their reading strategies and skills learned into any area independently.

As for me, I plan to dig out my running record work, watch videos at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, and continue learning about the reading and writing standards in the CCSS. I’ve created a LiveBinder of CCSS links

What about you? Has your state or school adopted the CCSS? How are you learning to implement these standards?

The Flow in Writing Class

How does one start a reflection on a year of writing?

Lots of weird things happened: slow connections, strange log-outs, slow computers. Those prevented us from working diligently on our wiki. In addition, many students hunt and peck, so typing fast is difficult. They simply don’t get enough time with computers to learn fast. Maybe we should hook up phones and allow txting — then they’d speed dial! (Think about it: they don’t know “dial.”) Even so, thanks to our great tech support, we overcame these obstacles.

Notes and Revision

Notes and Revision

But when everything connected, students found themselves immersed in their language choices: reading and re-reading to focus on the ideas, looking back at notes (on paper or the computer) to verify their ideas, sharing with a peer to see if they understood, and just plain re-writing because once the ideas started to flow, the focus was on the work. Sometimes, it didn’t seem like anyone was in the room, the kids were so focused on writing their ideas. They were not perfect in conventions, but the ideas flowed, whether the students were fifth or eighth grade students. The six and seventh grade students spent less time on the computer because their projects demanded peer writing and more drafting — looking at ways to write rather than finished content.

What did we do?
Gather, analyze and organize ideas– textual and visual.
Formulate ideas in powerful word choices: vivid verbs, nifty nouns, imagery
Elaborate as needed: details, facts, links, images
Organize for flow: sentences, paragraphs, transitions

So what?
In grade eight students
researched with online social bookmarking and annotation tools
wrote letters to the President in the National Writing Project
wrote reflections on MOTT: My Own Topic Time
created photo essays

In grade five (see prior posts) students
wrote paragraphs on topics of interest
wrote about places in Nespelem for our Memphis friends
wrote comments and questions to know our Memphis friends
commented with online social bookmarking and annotation tools
reflected on commonalities with our new Memphis friends

In grades five, six, and eight students
collaborated with other kids in other schools to explain their service as requested by President Obama

So what?
Online writing and sharing is a positive learning experience.

While reading George Hillocks, Jr’s “Some Practices and Approaches Are Clearly Better Than Others and We had Better Not Ignore the Differences.” in The English Journal, Vol. 98, No. 6, July, 2009 (NCTE), pages 23-29, Dr. Hillocks discussed the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience; New York: Harper, 1990 p.49.

In summary, positive reflections and memories result from experiences that include at least one of the following:

The experience:
is one that is achievable
can be concentrated on
has clear goals
includes immediate feedback
involves effortless involvement removed from everyday worries
as enjoyable allows control
allows one to forget concern for oneself while resulting in a stronger sense of self at the end
transcends time.

As I think about my students writing work on their wikis or blogs, I notice that my students know the task is achievable: they already have a draft of work we have discussed before they move to the wiki or blog, and each knows what s/he wants to accomplish. With that draft in hand, the concentration is on creating a better version while typing with a goal of sharing ideas with others (peers, other classes, themselves, other outside audiences). When finished, the student shares (initiated often on their own) with peers or the teacher to explain the changes and to reflect on other possibilities to enhance the writing. While working, each is focused, removed from whatever exists outside the classroom. In complete control of the writing, each enjoys the “aha” and the look of the typed wiki or blog. I see a student, dropping hands down to the side, pushing the chair back, and gazing at the finished piece before announcing, “Ms. Edwards, look at this!”

This doesn’t often happen when the writing is hand written. When shuffling pieces of paper, and attempting to make it better by hand; technology makes the work easier. Drafting and revising by hand is cumbersome now, especially knowing that the computer is an arm’s length away. And often, as the time for gathering at the end of class arrives, students exclaim, “This period went by fast.”

The technology tools (blogs, wikis, VoiceThread, Diigo) allowed students to learn in the flow, an engaged experience enhancing their learning and encouraging future progress.

I have a ways to go as their teacher, but I know I’m on the right track — and we flow together along its path even when the content and product is differentiated; even because if it.

This short two minute video from ASCD on the skills needed in the 21st Century capture the curriculum I hope to create for the futures of my students: Teach Forward

We will continue with our projects because our projects provided our flow in writing class. We will continue with our projects because they are the chance to grow with the tools of the future. Isn’t this what you want for your children?