Tuesday, May 23, 2017


It's Slice of Life Tuesday!  Thank you Two Writing Teachers for providing a forum and a community for writers!

This weekend I finally found the dedicated time to work in my garden. I had waited an entire year to get accustomed to my yard and finally I was ready to dig in and make the changes to create the yard of my dreams. The first area I wanted to make over was my pathway to my neighbor's house. My vision for this area was clear: add shade plants such as hostas and ferns to surround and soften the old pink wrought-iron chair that graced the garden walkway. I grabbed my tools and gloves and started separating the hostas in the yard. I added a few daylilies to the mix and  voila, instant garden path with a pizazz. I stepped back after a few hours of hard work to admire my handiwork. I realized then and there that having a clear vision and the available resources to accomplish that vision made everything happen.

I think that is true for many areas of life - vision and resources make most things a reality!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cooking Lessons

I hosted 12 guests for a Mother's Day brunch this past weekend.  I chose making brunch because the menu can be so varied with sweet french toasts, to savory quiches, to just right eggs, all delectable choices to cook.  The down side is the lack of oven space usually keeps me from going too wild with new dishes.  That is why I chose to use the crock pot to cook an overnight bread pudding on Saturday night. I have made these easy bread puddings before so it's simple to be creative by changing out the flavors and literally dumping new combinations of seasonings and fruits in at whim.  For this weekend's brunch I thought I'd try a bread pudding of raspberries and cream cheese. I was dreaming of the flavors as I quickly added the ingredients rather willy nilly into the pot.  I hit the "cook on low" button and went to bed, knowing that sometime in the early morning hours I would awake to the smell of sweet goodness! 

Six-thirty in the morning and I awake to smell something cooking, but not the usual sweet smell. I made my way downstairs and opened the lid to find a brown ugly mess with a smell to match.  The raspberries looked pale and mushy, the cream cheese was curdled and the bread looked overcooked with burned edges.  I unplugged the unit, tucked it aside and turned to plan B, oven french toast with some Irish soda bread I had stashed away in the freezer. This time I chose to follow a recipe. 

I felt fortunate that I had other ingredients available to save the day.  Just like in my classroom, I had to make due with what I had to make the best of the situation.  I am happy to say everything turned out fine thanks in part to being open and to being flexible!

Thank you to the authors of the Two Writing Teachers blog for hosting the Tuesday Slice of Life. I love this community of writers that can freely write and grow together.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Writing Engagement and Book Spine Poetry

I discovered book spine poetry during the March Slice of Life Challenge and immediately fell in love with the simplicity and whimsical nature of this format.  As I described in my slice, I shared my stack with a colleague and she wanted to have a go at this poetry writing format with her class, but she wanted to wait until later in the year.
Yesterday was the "later in the year" date. The classroom teacher had told me the students had earned a reward and they wanted to write all day long, so she thought this was a perfect time to break from their realistic fiction series books for a day and dive in with poetry.  
I introduced the lesson by asking students to turn and talk, sharing what they recall about writing poetry.  I leaned in so I could judge what I needed to reinforce before letting them compose their own poems. Today I reminded students that poems do not have to rhyme and that poems can be silly or serious.  After clarifying these basic concepts we explored a few of the books pine poems that I found searching through google images. The students were hooked!  I placed a tall stack of hard cover books (easier to see the spine) on each of the tables and said our celebratory "Off you go!"  

The buzz in the room was exciting as they walked back to their tables to work with their new writing partner. Some students quickly stacked the books and made a poem.  Others read over each title with care.  I was very aware of how each student's personality rose quickly to the top for this project, with some children creating wildly and others being very strategic and concrete. Many of the children approached this writing activity by simply stacking books and thinking they were done. When asked what they thought the poem was about, they eagerly went back to work arranging and rearranging.  Others pushed themselves to think about creating a poem that made some sort of sense. 

Once their poems were built, students were instructed to either take a photo or video of their stack to upload into their class SeeSaw account.  Many of the students chose to record themselves reading their poem.  They were so delighted that when it came time to stop to go to music class, they moaned, signaling their high level of engagement.  

Book spine poetry was a great break for this group of students and charged them up to continue writing in new and fun formats.

How do you foster writing engagement?




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Cinquain Celebrating a New Bicycle

April is National Poetry month and I have been trying my hand at writing a few new and different (for me) formats of poems.  I do this because I believe that you can't teach it if you haven't tried writing it yourself.  This week I attempt a cinquain.  If you search for directions on how to write a cinquain, you will find many different variations, but the common thread seen was using fives lines of text with no rhyming words.

Today I write a poem to honor the new bicycle that I picked out last week.  My children surprised me at Christmas with a gift card for a new bicycle and so with last week being vacation, I finally took the time to pick it out! I just love the fact that the tides are turning and they are now buying ME a bicycle! 

Shiny, Purple
Pedaling, Shifting, Whizzing
Flying down the path

Arriving home from the bike shop with my new bicycle.
Yes, I do have a helmet!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring Slice of LIfe Tuesday.  Each week I am afforded an opportunity to practice living a writerly life.

Last night I awoke to find the moon shining through my window and onto the water.  The moonlight captured the choppy late night waters, making the lake shine like expensive diamonds.   I heard my friend's famous saying: If you don't get a picture, it never happened. And I always say: A picture paints a thousand words.  Either way I decided to get out of bed to get a better look and attempt to take a picture on my phone to capture the beauty of the early morning view. 


Oh No! I forgot to turn off the automatic flash.  The neighbors probably thought there was a lightning storm at 3am.  I adjusted the settings and tried again.  Too tired to check my photos, I crawled back into bed until it was really morning.  At breakfast I turned on my phone to check out my pictures.  Nothing there but a black screen and a small white light in the center.  Disappointment settled in.  Where was that beautiful scene?  My friend's words came back to me.  Oh well, maybe it never happened.  Maybe it was just a dream. Either way, in my mind's eye that moonlit scene was worth a thousand words, or possibly 212 words.  At the very least this scene was worth a small moment story!   

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Haiku to the Lake

April is National Poetry month so I am once again trying my hand at new to me poetry format, the haiku.  I think the last haiku I wrote was when I was in elementary school.  I recall the 5-7-5 syllable count but I needed to google the format to see if there were any other parameters and found many variations.  Most of my searching found reminded me that haikus typically focus on nature themes and that when displaying the letters should all be centered. 
Coincidentally I received an invite from my brother in law to climb aboard their boat for the maiden voyage of the year!  Inspired by my impromptu experience, I wrote a haiku for my weekly slice.

Windows open wide
Sunshine warm against the skin
Time for sunset cruise

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this establishing and fostering a wonderful writing community.



Tuesday, April 4, 2017

An Ode to a Cupcake

Last month I challenged myself to the March Slice of Life Writing Challenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers.  Writing for 31 days straight was a huge time commitment but the growth was great.  I am proud to display my badge of courage.

On my last post for the March Slice of Life challenge I noted that I wanted to continue with my commitment to writing by posting a slice of life each Tuesday.  I also reflected that I enjoyed writing poetry and I wanted to try new formats.  With April marking National Poetry Month I thought I would dive right in by attempting to write an ode.  Thanks to a recent blog post on A Day in the Life for inspiring and teaching me to write an ode - or my interpretation of one!
I am writing this ode from the point of view of my granddaughter who ate her first slice of cake at her 1st birthday party this weekend.

                  Ode to a Cupcake and the First Taste of Sweetness

                     Pink and shiny treat spotted on my tray
                    Gooey goodness cover my hands
                    Squeals of the crowd, laughing with delight
                    Sweetness fills my nose
                    Sugary topping reaches my tongue...
                    Oh yum!
                    Will I ever taste anything so scrumptious again?