Saturday, November 29, 2014

Never Say Never...

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space for our celebrations.  It's important to take the time to celebrate the big and small things in life.  Please check Ruth's site to read other celebrations.



Twenty-one years ago, we got our first pet when our oldest was 5 years old.  We had two dogs, one cat, and an assortment of fish through the years of raising our kids.  We had pets up until 2 years ago and we were sure that we wouldn't have any more.  We enjoyed being able to get up and go away whenever we wanted without having to worry about who was going to feed the dogs or cat.  The kids would hint that they'd like to have a dog, but we were strong...no more pets for us.  In fact, my friend Deb has been fostering a dog who had six puppies.  I sat across from her in a meeting last week, thinking to myself how glad I was that we didn't have a house full of puppies.

It happened again last night...Annie mentioned how nice it would be to have a dog.  I felt myself waver...
"If we get another dog, I want to get one who's a little older.  It would be trained and well behaved.

Then this showed up on my Facebook feed last night:


8:30 AM this morning, we were saw the puppies on TV.  Oh boy!  I sent Deb a text...no promises, could we come look at the puppies.  

We left the house, knowing in our heart of hearts, that we were going to bring home a puppy.  

We walked into Deb's house and I turned to Keith, "I think we should get both of them.  They're going to be lonely without each other."

"Both of them?  Are you kidding?" he asked incredulously.

"I'm serious," I replied back.

So, here's my little celebration for today.  Meet Jem and Scout (yes, we had to find literary siblings as their namesakes).



We are starting over with the whole puppy thing.  I'm thinking it's got to be easier this time around since the last time we had a puppy, Annie was 6 weeks old, Zach was 2 1/2, and I was watching my sister's kids, aged 3 and 1 1/2.

They are darling and we love them already.  I'm glad we changed our minds.

Molly just asked if we could get a kitten too.  I'm pretty sure the answer to that question is going to be, "No!"  We'll be plenty busy taking care of these new little ones in our family.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Best Part of NCTE

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life Tuesday.  Take a moment to visit their site to meander through other slices.  You are sure to enjoy the stories.

I am still reeling from NCTE.  It's always a good time, but this year's convention was the best.  The difference?  The people.  Old friends. New friends. Digging deeper friends.  Wrapping my arms around people I've never personally met, yet I know their stories friends.

The importance of community struck me over and over again those 4 days in D.C.  The stories woven throughout that community make it even stronger.  We find a common thread that binds us even closer, and for that I am so grateful.  This community's foundation lies in relationships built over coffee at Panera, laughter around the table, and for far away friends, Google Hangouts, Twitter, and blogs.  Many of my new friends were discovered on Tuesdays, right here at Slice of Life.

The stories sustain me, lift me, and carry me forward.  I am looking forward to hearing more stories and nurturing these friendships in the next year.

I was thrilled to see Margaret Simon receive the Donald Graves Award.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Sunday, November 9, 2014

Continuing the Digital Literacy Conversation

I was up early one morning this week  beginning to write the blog post below when I got a notification that Troy Hicks and Kristin Ziemke posted a response to Nancie Atwell's blog in our Facebook group Digital Literacy Workshop K-6.    I've had a few days to think about both articles and decide  how I wanted to continue with this blog post.  I have to agree with Troy and Kristen that the digital writing workshop in the upper elementary grades is so much more than using a computer as a word processor.  I've written many times about my fourth grade students making purposeful decisions about their digital compositions and articulating those decisions.  When using technology in thoughtful and authentic ways, our students are given one more avenue for both consuming and producing text.  In a true digital workshop, students have choice in how they read, respond, and write.  Sometimes they choose traditional tools, at other times they chose digital tools.  It depends on their purpose and comfort level.  In addition, the ability to receive feedback from others outside the classroom walls is powerful.  Connecting with others offers opportunities to share ideas, reflect, and consider new ideas.  While I do not have much experience in using technology with primary students, I am quickly learning in my new position as a literacy coach.  The teachers in my building are at the point that they want to incorporate digital reading and writing authentically into their workshops.  We are working together to envision and create opportunities for our youngest learners.

I am grateful to Troy and Kristin for sharing their thinking and for starting a conversation.  As educators, it is important that we consider diverse ideas and add our own voices.

Below you will find the blog post I began on Wednesday.  I hope that you will add your voice to the conversation by leaving a comment.

What We Learn About Writing and Writers from Blogging

People ask me if I miss being in the classroom.  Without a doubt, I do.  I miss reading about new ideas and trying them out in my room.  I miss the freedom and flexibility of arranging my schedule to accommodate trying out these ideas.  And I miss having 24 or so students that I know deeply as readers, writers, researchers, and mathematicians.

However, on the positive side, I get to work with lots of different people and kids at my school.  That means there are more opportunities for conversations about reading and writing and my favorite subject...how do we authentically weave digital reading and writing into our workshops.  It's an exciting time for me right now at Scioto Darby.  Teachers are looking for ways for their students to write for an audience that extends beyond their classroom walls.  I am surrounded by people who want to learn and are excited about the opportunities afforded by digital reading and writing.  These experiences and conversations give me time to reflect on what I know about reading and writing and help me refine my instruction.  I am continually learning through this whole process.

Most recently, I've been able to get into some first grade classrooms to get them started with blogging.  This week, I had the opportunity to visit Mrs. Shell's room.  As I always do when beginning a new type of writing, I share some mentor texts.  For that day's lesson, I shared this blog from 6 year-old Em.



Together, we wrote what we noticed and we came up with the following list:

  • Writers can blog about different things.
  • Writers write about what is interesting to them.
  • Writers choose a catchy title to grab their reader's attention.
  • The words tell a story.
  • The picture matches the words.
  • Writers can have a conversation through comments with their readers.
  • Writers can share their writing with people far away.
As you can see from this list, there is some deep thinking going on with these 6 year-olds.  I, for one, am excited to watch them and their teacher as they begin to use technology in other authentic ways within their day.

Thank you to Margaret Simon from Reflections on the Teche for hosting DigiLit Sunday.  Please visit her site to read other posts about this topic and other ways teachers are using technology in authentic ways.  


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Metamorphosis of A House


Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life Tuesdays.  Please visit their site to read other Slices and leave a comment.

I've been wanting/needing to write this story for awhile and the time didn't feel right until tonight.


It's the first time we've bought an existing home.  Our previous 2 homes were brand new when we moved in. I didn't know it wouldn't feel like home at first.  I wasn't prepared for the unsettledness.

I missed my big windows where light shone through every morning.

I missed my front porch.

I missed my gardens.

I missed the familiarity and comfort I felt in my old house.

I didn't feel like I was at home.

The call came while we were in Cleveland visiting my mother-in-law who was back in the hospital.  We were crawling into bed, the clock inching toward midnight when my phone rang.

It was hard to understand Annie's voice, "Mom, it's Zach.  He's in trouble and he needs you."

Ten minutes later, Keith and I were in the car headed for Cincinnati, a 5 hour drive at least.  We stopped half way to pick Annie up from college.

My heart raced.
My hand clung to Keith's.
I prayed.
I cried.
I prayed even harder.
I willed the car to go  faster because all I wanted to do was hold my son and see that he was ok.
I was more scared than I'd ever been as a parent.

We arrived a little after 4:30 am, inching down the dark street searching for the address.  I jumped out of the car as soon as he came out the door.  Standing on my tiptoes, I wrapped my arms around my son, letting him know that no matter what, we were going to be there for him.  We pulled into our driveway as the sun began to rise.  Both kids stumbled off to bed and I tucked them in, something I haven't done for years.  How I wished that a kiss and hug could heal the pain.

Molly, taking a redeye,  arrived from DC a few hours later.

For a week, our family stayed close.  Molly...Zach...Annie...our grownup children all together.

 The kids hung out, they teased, they laughed, they cooked, they went on a tour of bookstores and came home with books to lose themselves in.  Our house overflowed with love and gratitude for each other.

And my heart began to change.

It no longer mattered that I needed to turn on all the lamps even during the day.
I found that the patio overlooking the back yard was the perfect place for a morning cup of tea.
I saw the potential for new flower beds when I looked outside at the blank landscape.


That week, in my eyes, our house became our home.

The metamorphosis surprised me.  I knew the saying that home is where the heart is.  I had repeated it to myself over and over again, but, I didn't realize how much that was true until last month.

So, now, this new place we call home has become the space for healing and fresh starts.  I am filled with hope for new beginnings and gratitude for the things I hold most dear.  Because now I know, without a doubt, that my home is wherever I find Keith...Molly...Zach...and Annie.

They are who makes my house a home.