Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Thank You Slice of Life Writers #SOL21

Sometimes something ordinary

Looks quite different as words on a page.

I have flexed my writing muscles,

Creating stories from my

Everyday life as a teacher and mom.

Offering these snippets from my life

Feels liberating now.

Lucky me to have found so much

Inspiration from other slice writers who also 

Furnished supportive comments, which

Encouraged me to keep writing and sharing.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful platform to share our stories as part of the March Slice of Life Challenge.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Not Sure About Napping #SOL21

Napping comes highly recommended by my husband, my friends, and my colleagues.  

I came home today and found everyone out for a walk, so I decided to take advantage of the quiet and empty house and give it a whirl.  I had hoped it would refresh me and/or provide me with some ideas for writing. 

Forty minutes later, I woke up to the door closing.  Eventually, I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed, for I was warm, still foggy, and happy where I was beneath the covers.

Unfortunately, no ideas had emerged from my nap, and I was still sleepy.

The sun was still shining and it was fairly warm, so I ventured outside, hoping the fresh air would pick me up and get my brain working.  I was observing my surroundings and looking for something to spark an idea.

Instead, all I could think about was what I would do if it were not a school night - all of which involved more relaxing, not correcting or planning.

So, if it were not a school night, I would:

  • sit outside by a fire with a glass of wine
  • binge-watch this season of Grey's Anatomy
  • hunker down under a blanket and read, but probably fall back asleep
  • work on a puzzle
I know.  I could do these things on a school night, but I was hoping the nap would give me the energy to:
  • go on a walk
  • correct for an hour
  • plan for tutoring
  • clean the kitchen
  • fold the laundry
I am not sure about this napping thing.  While it gave me an idea for a slice, all I want to do now is crawl back into bed.  That is what I call sleeping.

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.


Monday, March 29, 2021

Dismantling Did Not Happen #SOL21

 Getting ready for a show is stressful.  There are several pieces that come together at the end during a normal year - blocking, props, costumes, set, lights, sound, and cast party.  A pandemic show added sanitizing, distancing, filming, serving, and emotions of a different kind.  

No one really knew what to expect on this "show" day.  

It was a day I will never forget, mostly because of the joy and pride that gleamed on every single face throughout the day.  The camaraderie was unlike any other year, and I know we will all miss our time together after school.  

Today, it was a quiet remote Monday after the "show."  My plan was to dismantle the stage and put things away.  

I walked into the dark, empty auditorium and stopped.  It was silent.  There were no joyful voices.  There were no bodies to remind to stay apart.  I was alone.

I turned on the lights and stepped onto the stage; our enchanted bookshop was in a bit of a disarray.  

I managed to pack up two boxes of books.  I placed them on a cart, closed the prop room door, turned off the work lights, and left.

Apparently, I was not ready to dismantle the world we had all worked so hard to create.  

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Walking with the Rain #SOL21

 I went walking with the rain today.  We had a wonderful conversation.  I think it enjoyed our time, too, because it kept coming down harder and steadier.  I almost turned to go home, but I enjoyed the banter.  The rain listened and helped me decide a few things and let me process other thoughts.

  • I am going forward with book groups with my 7th-graders.  
  • I am going to have my 8th-graders interview each other about this last year and document each other's thoughts.
  • I am going to try a Genius Hour!
  • We need to pursue an end-of-year musical for our theater students.  
  • I see signs everywhere about Ashley's college future and hope for good news for my girl.
  • This time next week, I will be planning a trip to either Wisconsin or Florida, hoping for the former.  Could the colder weather be a sign?
  • I am excited for my niece's graffiti artwork to be a place for my students to leave their marks this year.  

I was soaked by the end of our walk, but I love the rain.  Its drops trailed down my glasses, reminding me of the many thoughts we discussed.  Now, it soothes me with its pitter-patter on the roof, encouraging me to crawl under the covers to let it sing me to sleep.  

It brings life to many things, including my thoughts.  Thanks for traveling with me today, rain.  I needed someone to talk to.

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Proud Director #SOL21

Today, we filmed our school's play The Enchanted Bookshop.  I waited until the end of the day because I knew I would want to write about it.  There is just one word that encapsulates the day - PROUD.  I decided to use it to write an acrostic poem.  I think I might have the principal read it over the announcements on Tuesday.

Performing during a pandemic

Rising above all obstacles 

Our student thespians outdid themselves

Undeniably, the proudest moment as a director, watching them

Doing what they love!

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.


Friday, March 26, 2021

Reflection of the Week #SOL21

 Every Friday, I reflect on my week using this format.  It is a great way to wrap up the work week and get ready for the weekend and beyond.  

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Thurs-slay #SOL21

The weeks are long and exhausting.  I don't know why I think they should be getting easier, but I do.  Today, I was dragging, and then everything changed.  I got this from a friend (and a little something else), and it was just what I needed to change my perspective. 

I like this word!  It made me think of all the things that happened today that will help me finish this week strong.

  • Words from a dear friend:  "I just wanted to share that I just took time to catch up on your blog.  I laughed, I cried, and most of all I wanted to give you a hug.  You are amazing!"  Okay, this might have brought a few tears, but they were happy ones.  
  • Words from a student:  " Mrs. Morris, I see how all of this is coming together.  It makes things easier."  Yes!  Planning does help us to write and create.
  • Words from my partner in crime/teaching:  "We've got this!"
  • Words from another student:  " I could see it coming."  Exactly, that is foreshadowing!
  • Words from another student:  "Mrs. Morris, look at this!  I found another example of foreshadowing!"  It was one I had never seen before in this animated short.
  • A student worked on his open response past the bell.
  • A non-reader finished American Born Chinese in two days.  It just takes one book to reel them in.
  • A student nailed the theme of a Dickinson poem.
Thank you, dear friend.  I hope you come back to read this.  I am going to continue to slay this Thursday by getting a pedicure with my daughter, Ashley.

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Currently, But Really Earlier #SOL21

Every day, I find inspiration from all of the wonderful writers in this community.  Today's post is an example.  I tried out a "Currently" poem this morning, but I was not able to post it until now.  Thank you, everyone, for sharing your ideas and hearts.  

Currently at 6:00 a.m., 
I am 
sitting in front of 
Zoom, writing
in my notebook, 
my morning pages.

I am 
thinking of what to 
write for a slice, 
listing my ideas,
trying one out.

I am 
thinking about the
long day ahead - 
back-to-back classes, rehearsal,
tutoring, and Time to Write.

I am 
putting my phone
on the back part 
of this notebook
to hold it down - 
almost done and 
not my favorite.

I am 
scratching my head, 
wondering Could this be
a slice?  Is it
slice worthy?

Currently and always,
I am 
critical of my 
writing, wondering
Is it good enough 
to share?

Currently and always,
my fear and
perfectionist thinking
creep into
my current thoughts.

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

A Dream Within a Dream #SOL21

 I don't dream often, and when I do, I don't remember much about them.  Usually, I try to figure out where the content came from, why I had the dream, or what the dream is telling me.

Last night, I had a dream about writing.  I woke up in the middle of the night surprised by the content.  I told myself it was a dream I wanted to remember in the morning.

In my dream, I woke up from a dream that gave me two things for a short story I am writing in real life.  

One, it gave me a fantastic line that would breathe life into my story.  Unfortunately, neither of us (dream me or real me) seemed to remember the line, but it was exciting and important.  

Two, it led me to a journal entry in which I compared something to a roller coaster.  I even had a drawing in the journal of a specific roller coaster, and I can still form a vague picture of it in my mind.  Apparently, this journal entry was something I could insert into my story, as well.  However, it was dream me's entry.  

My deductions from this dream:

  •  The practice of journaling, notebooking, or whatever a writer calls it is useful and purposeful.  It can contain crucial pieces of a story or any other piece of writing, even a slice.
  • The story I am writing is about dreams.  Maybe this dream is telling me that my mind and writing will give me what I need to tell the story; it will come together.
Who knows?  Sometimes, I read a little too much into my dreams.  

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Remote Monday - It Can Only Get Better from Here #SOL21

Our seventh-grade team is looking to teach Jason Reynolds' Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Blocks; I love that book and its format.  I decided to relate my remote Monday in 7 periods.  I jotted a short thought about each class/period on sticky notes after the students left class.  I may have cried if I did not have something else to focus on, and when I was done, the only thing I could do was laugh.  

Before School:

It was remote Monday, but the Internet was down.  I sat in a holding pattern for 30 minutes, waiting to see if it would come back up.  "Should I stay or should I go now?" playing in my head.

Period 1 - 

A student would not put his camera on because he was too busy cooking breakfast.  I had to repeat directions several times because who knows what the others were doing.

Period 2 - 

A meeting about a delightful student revealed that she is extremely anxious and struggling with low self-esteem all around school.  I wish she could see the potential I see in her.

Period 3 - 

A few kids refused to turn cameras on for class.  While we may not be able to see their faces, we can certainly see what they are doing or not doing.  Thank you, GoGuardian and shared Google slides.

Period 4 - 

The only way we can get pictures of an entire class of students for the yearbook is during remote Mondays.  A screenshot of our class was taken with one black screen.  I had to wait about a minute while the students fixed their bed head hair and dropped their blankets.  

Period 5 - 

Tracking students through GoGuardian was so enlightening. Target shopping, Pokemon. and anime shows, oh my!

Period 6 - 

Asynchronous prep work is long and arduous.  That does not include preparing for the students who will be in front of me tomorrow.  Good thing I spend time on it over the weekend.

Period 7 - 

I was hoping that giving my eighth graders some time to work offline would be productive for them.  Well, it was, but certainly not for class.  BUST!

Faculty Meeting

Planning for a full return to school is harder than planning for a brand new year.  One would think that it would be easier than planning for three scenarios last September.  

It's just another "manic Monday!"  THREE more to go!  I can do hard things!

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

A Musical Show - Nature Knows #SOL21

Nature Knows

Under the direction
of the chirping birds,
nature knows its cues.

Winter snow
bows out in the shadows,
receding from the stage.

Daffodils emerge
from below the mulch,
pushing its way downstage.

Budding blooms
hang from above, 
rounding out the tableau.

I witness the show
with a standing ovation;
its beauty brings hope.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Rough Day for the Neighborhood #SOL21

I am going to try to unload some unsettling news from yesterday in 6-word chunks (inspiration from another slicer).  I wanted to write a poem, but I did not feel like it was poetic.  I feel like it is raw, puzzling, and unsettling and all I can do is spit it out.   Nothing makes sense.

Something happened in my neighborhood yesterday.

Helicopters were flying around the area.

They were low and loud, too close.

A text came from a friend,

"Rough day for the neighborhood," What??

Around the corner on our walking route,

a 49-year-old mother and

her 12-year-old daughter were

found dead at 7:30 a.m. at home.

Father and brother are not suspects.

Isolated incident; no threat to community

It was a "very difficult scene."

More death too close to home.

Trying to make sense of it

is so damn scary, no words.

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Friday, March 19, 2021

A List of Fun #SOL21

I almost did not get up to write this morning.  My bed felt perfectly cozy, and I wished I could stay there all day.

Even though I had only eight hours until the official weekend, I felt as though I already needed more time.  I was spent, and the day had not yet begun.

I wish I felt different, but things are not getting easier or better.  In theory, it could possibly get better when we are fully in school five days a week, but even that will be hard.  No one in my district has been in school five days a week with a normal size class for over a year.  

I wondered if my lethargy was because I have not done anything fun for myself for the last six months.  So, I spent my writing time making a list of things that do not involve work, cleaning, writing, or my normal meal prep.

My Fun List:

  • get a membership to Tower Hill Botanical gardens and visit regularly
  • drive to the beach, sit in a chair, and read a book
  • hike new trails
  • take a knitting class
  • play board games with Scott and Ashley
  • visit Nashoba Valley Winery and others
  • eat out when outside dining opens
  • popcorn and a movie
  • puzzles
  • make bread
  • visit Walden Pond
  • start plants for the garden
  • Let's Make Art - get a subscription and start creating
  • work on Ashley's repat blanket
  • go to Boston
  • visit Release Well-Being
  • take a cooking class
  • go back to Pickety Place with my friends
  • go to Florida to see mom and dad when fully vaccinated
Just creating the list gave me hope, and I left the house feeling a little lighter.  I plan to do one thing on the list this weekend.  

"We're so busy watching out for what's just ahead of us that we don't take time to enjoy where we are."
- Bill Watterson

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Case of the Missing Paper #SOL21

Where is Nancy Drew when you need her?

It has been one of those weeks where I just can't seem to keep on top of things.  

Kids are struggling.

There was an observation of a student by an outside consultant today.

I started new lessons or units in all four of my classes.

It's crunch time for our theater production.

There were meetings upon meetings upon meetings.

And today, I lost a piece of paper.  Ok, I know, a piece of paper - it's a small thing, not a big deal. 

However, it wasn't the fact that I lost the paper that bothered me; it was more that I lost it within five minutes of using it!  

Soooo, I guess I feel what I really lost was my MIND!  

I had just finished recording ideas for an open response with my class, and I was organizing myself for the next class walking in the door.  My co-teacher and I planned to parallel teach in the next class, and I wanted to leave it with her as a guide.  I went to place it under the Hovercam, but it was gone.  

Hastily, we both sifted through the papers on our workspace.  Then, Meg searched the room while I looked through the trash bucket.  Nothing.  

The only thing we could do was laugh and stare at each other in disbelief.

I looked through everything at least three times before the end of the day.  

As I sat at my desk trying to correct papers after the students left, I put my deduction skills to use and went over in my head the last few minutes of the class.  I remembered that a student came up to share one of his papers.  Could he have taken the paper with his own paper?  

I sent him an email.  The investigation continues...

I am excited to be participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

I Want to Join Leigh Anne's Party! #SOL21

This is my first year participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, and I am inspired every day by all of the wonderful writers.  I am so excited to be invited to my first slicer party.  Thank you, Leigh Anne, for the invite and prompt.  I enjoyed creating my ID to get into your party.  

Here is the mentor text:

“Depending On When You Met Me” by Devon Gundry, Soul Pancake

Depending on when you met me, I might have been: a checker’s champion, the kid who squirted Super Glue in his eye, a competitive Ping-Pong player, Tweedle Dum, a high school valedictorian, a fake blond, 1/12 of an all-male a capella group, a graduate of the Vanderbilt School of Engineering, a nomad, a street musician, or a pigeon assassin.

My ID for entrance:

Depending on when you met me, I might have been:  a read-a-thon winner, the voice for a quiet and shy younger brother, a media center helper, a rollerskater, a volleyball player, the devoted granddaughter sitting by a bed listening to stories, a waitress at Friendly's, the one who tended to lock her keys in the car and snuck home to get the spare key late at night, a women's rights protester, a Wheaton College English and psychology student, a paralegal ready to go to law school, a recently married claims supervisor, a post-baccalaureate education student, a 6th-grade ELA teacher, a soccer and dance mom, a director of the school theater program, a master's student, the creator of a literacy program, a co-teacher, a crime show junkie, a wanna-be profiler, book worm, writer, and soon-to-be empty nester. 

Thank you for this wonderful writing opportunity.  I have fun thinking about all the versions of me!

I am loving the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge!


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Remote Mondays, Your Days Are Numbered #SOL21

I took inspiration from other slices and Kobe Bryant's Farewell to Basketball poem, which I used as a mentor text for a writing assignment I did with my 8th-graders earlier this year.  I am looking forward to the end of remote Mondays, so I am writing a farewell poem.

Remote Mondays, 
your days are numbered.
While I enjoy the solitude
of the quiet hallways,
I miss the masked faces
of my students and other teachers.

The extra half hour of prep time
is helpful as I ease
into a new week of hybrid teaching,
but I'm tired of overthinking lessons
and ways to keep students engaged on Zoom,
trying to pry them out of bed
and away from video games, YouTube, Netflix.
I just can't compete.

Some come to school
the next day lost,
having forgotten or perhaps
never having seen or heard 
the remote lesson.

Black screens,
half heads, 
kids in beds or eating breakfast,
and rooms, but no bodies
are simply depressing.

Oh, how I hate wondering 
if the students are on the other 
virtual end, and yes, 
I suspect that some have disappeared
to some other place.  

Oh, how it hurts, literally.
Numb butt from sitting
for hours.
Eyes that can't focus 
after staring at the screen 
for hours.
Backache from lack of movement
or standing in one place
for hours.

Remote Mondays,
I can't wait to walk away
from you.
4 more dreaded Mondays
to go!

I am excited to be participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Sleep Was Not My Friend #SOL21

Not too long ago, I wrote about how reading before bed seemed to be helping me fall asleep.  Well, that was not the case last night.  

I went to bed early, wiped out from a day of constant work of some sort.  I put my phone aside, picked up The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, and started my 30 minutes of reading.  

At 10:30, I turned out the light and put my head down to sleep.  However, my eyes stayed wide open.  I was simply not going to fall asleep.

I decided to read some more, and two hours later, I was crying as I finished the book.  It took me a while to settle down, and sleep finally crept in.

Although I was exhausted this morning, I still got up to write, and I ended my morning pages with a poem.

Sleep did not want
to cooperate last night.
It had its own plans, and 
stayed out way too late.

This morning, sleep was wheedling
my eyes to stay shut
and my body to stay flat, 
but my journal was calling me.

I stole away from sleep,
knowing I might succumb to its nap later, 
but I vowed that I would 
keep it waiting until tonight.

I ended my writing session with this quote to get me through the day.

Being tired isn't anything.  What's important is the mind.  You can get over the body being tired by resting a half-hour or an hour.  What's important is whether the mind is tired."

- Salt Bae

I am excited to be participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Sunday Is All About Preparation #SOL21

Sunday is all about preparing - lessons, clothes, and food.  

I would say the preparation that has had the biggest impact on my life lately is my Sunday meal prep.

In late fall in an attempt to eat healthier and make life easier, I started preparing dinners and lunches for the entire week on Sunday.

I also started participating in a lunch swap with two friends at work.  We each prepare four servings of a healthy dish and bring them into school.  Each day we have a different healthy lunch.  We eat very well!

My husband and I explore Weight Watchers and Skinny Taste cookbooks for recipes.  Usually, we pick three meals, and I double at least one to take to school.

The preparation starts first thing Sunday morning.  After selecting the recipes, I create a list of ingredients needed, and then Scott and I go to the grocery store.  Another perk is that my husband helps me, and that never happened during the week.  

After we return from the store, we pull out all of the ingredients and stage them on the table.  

We then spend Sunday afternoons together cooking our three dishes.  Scott does the chopping and measuring of spices, and I put the ingredients together and do the cooking.  Today, we will be using the Insta Pot, the oven, and the stovetop.  

Our menu for this week:

1.  Breaded chicken thighs, roasted balsamic vegetables, and brown rice.

2.  Instant Pot chicken and dumpling soup (we are expecting cold weather this week)

3.  Korean beef and rice bowls

And this week we are adding a breakfast.

4.  Sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches

The result has been life-altering.  I do not have to cook during the week.  I do not have to wonder about or figure out what we are having for dinner.  I do not have to go to the grocery store or order out.  It is simply grab a container and sit.  We still eat together, but the nights are stress-free.  

At the end of my morning pages, I put a quote as a send-off for the day.  Today, I ended with this quote, and I find it applicable to my Sunday preparation.

"Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now."

 - Alan Lakein

I am excited to be participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

A Lesson Learned from a Missing Pencil #SOL21

I love my Blackwing 602 pencil, so much so I go nuts when I can't find it.  I write my poetry, slices, and stories with it.

My daughter seems to like it, too.  One day I found it with her physics textbook and notes.

This morning, I sat down to write, and my pencil was gone.  

I started to tear my desk apart, picking up journals, sticky notes, planners, and papers to look underneath, but I found nothing.  Then, I started moving from side to side in my chair looking below to see if it was on the floor.  It was not there either.  Next, I pulled out the drawer and took the items out.  I never expected to find it there, so it was no surprise when I did not find it.

The gray pencil with shiny gold metal flattened against the eraser is quite distinguishable, and I can usually spot it easily amongst the myriad of pens I have in containers on my desk.  I usually keep it on the desk next to the containers.  

My heart started to race, and I could feel my frustration level rising.  I hate losing my prized pencil.  A few weeks ago, I left one at the airport where I watch my son during his flying lesson, and I was so bummed.  

Obviously, someone must have moved my pencil.  

All of this was happening during the beginning of my Time to Write session on Zoom.  I waited for a break before I left the room to hunt for it in other places.  

I sat back, looked up, and spotted its gold top standing above the other writing utensils in a pencil holder my daughter made me when she was little.  She had moved it to a safe place because she knows how much I love my pencil.  I was elated, but then I realized something.

I think I have a problem.  This missing inanimate object got such a rise out of me this morning, and that caused me to wonder.

Am I too attached to this concrete object that can easily be replaced?  What does this mean?

Am I just tired of trying to find or manage things during this stressful and emotional time?  

How do I handle or let things go without a spike in my emotions?  

Unfortunately, this was not the first time I experienced these emotions this week.  

Thank you, pencil.  You helped me to realize that I need to be okay with letting some things go or patient with myself or the situation.  If I relax and let myself see and think about what is around me, I may find a solution or what I am looking for in a place least expected.  

I am excited to be participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Change #SOL21

 I reflected on the changes that are coming and looming, which make me emotional.

Change is coming.

I can see it 

when I look out the window.

The white blanket is receding,

making way for the grass

to take over 

with its green carpet.

Change is looming.

It constantly reminds me

with snail mail and emails

that my daughter is leaving.

It beckons her 

to make a new home

far away from me

in South Carolina or Tennessee.

Change is emotional.

I can feel it in my heart.

Students are coming back

after a year of remote or hybrid learning.

It is exciting, scary, foreign -

as it has been so long

since we have seen all of them

every day in the classroom.

Change is coming

way too quickly.

Change is looming, 

pulling at my heartstrings.

Change is uneasy, 

but it is essential for progress.  

I am excited to be participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Fish Who Was Finally Named #SOL21

The fish is the talk of the hallway.  Kids and teachers stop by to check on him and still ask for proof of life.  I had to remove the filter the other day to make him swish his fins.  The assistant principal fed him on remote Monday and searched for him to send me a picture to verify he was still alive.  Well, needless to say, he was hiding from her.  

Yesterday, we announced the names of the fish and the moss ball.  

All of my students had input.  I created a Google Form for them to suggest names.  A few students took the initiative and made posters, rallying for their names.  Others created class text groups to coordinate suggestions.  

Nest, I picked the top four names for each.  For the fish, the names were Pablo, Damon, Riptide, and Bubbles.  The moss ball names were not as diverse - Mossy, Randy Moss, Dumpy, and Bobby.  The students then voted on another Google Form.

The students were buzzing.  Another poster showed up outside my doorway.  Kids stopped by throughout the day to check on the pie graph results.  I, literally, had to stop a group of sixth-grade boys from hugging when they saw their names pulling ahead in the race.

The kids have waited patiently for the reveal, and most of the students seemed pleased with the results.  The Betta is Riptide, and the moss ball is Randy Moss.  

My eighth-graders took it pretty coolly.  They nodded their heads in approval.  

In my seventh grade class, a student wanted to make the announcement.  There was a little more enthusiasm in those classes.  I heard some say, "I like Riptide; that's a good name."  There were smiles and fist pumps.  Others were disappointed their names did not win.

However, the sixth graders were a bit more ceremonious.  In one class, all seven students stood, crouched over their desks, and created a drum roll.  When they heard the names, there were shouts of glee and jumping up and down, for it was these sixth-grade students who campaigned the hardest for these two names.  

The plans keep rolling in from the students.  Apparently, there are beds for Betta fish that stick to the wall of the tank.  Maybe he will come out more often if he had a bed.  A student suggested that I might want to invest in a heater because the water might be too cold for him.  

They want to add more critters to the tank.  A snail would help clean the bottom of the tank, and I learned that there is something called a sucker that would keep the sides of the tank clean.  I was also informed shrimp cohabitate well with moss balls.  

I love the energy this little guy has generated, and his antics create some great discussions.   

I am excited to be participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

My Day in 7 Sentences #SOL21

 Wake up and Write with my Teach Write friends.

Concerning conversation brings tears and digs up memories.

Insightful conversations with my sixth-graders about bullying, character change, and motivations of characters and Fish in a Tree.

Impressive descriptive paragraphs were written and shared by my seventh graders.

Proof of life was required, again, for our class Betta fish, which was recently named Riptide (although the students loved the suggestion of Houdini from another slicer).

Exhausting COVID rehearsal for our play The Enchanted Bookshop allows students to take leadership roles.

Full circle.  Perfect ending.  Time to Write with my Teach Write friends.  

I am excited to be participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

My Mind is a Pinball Machine #SOL21

I started my remote Monday with morning writing and then a walk.  As always, my mind wandered as I walked this cold, sunny morning, and I paid close attention to its starts, stops, circles, wonderings, and discoveries.  My mind was like the ball in the pinball machine.  I was truly experiencing REST, that random episodic silent thought.

Where my mind went:

  • Extended metaphor poems - and I went home with a totally different plan for the week.

  • Cam’s flying lessons - and a realization of how we both wear our emotions on our sleeves.

  • Ashley’s college tours - orange looks good on her, but which letters will she choose to wear?

  • Birds chirping - the distinct woodpecker, the hee-haw (best I can do to describe the sound) birds, and another bird.  I tried to pick out their different songs.

  • Cracks in the pavement - and how they are like the lines on my aging hands and the journeys they both have provided.

  • Wishing that my brain was a computer - and how I could print out the paths of my mind.

This journey was not linear, not stop and move on.  It was literally a pinball game.  My mind jumped from one thing to the next, backward and forwards, all over the place.  It was totally random.  It was repeated episodes.  I didn’t say a word, but there was singing.  And boy did I think, feel, and lose myself in the remarkable working of my mind.

I am excited to be participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Monday, March 8, 2021

A Boy and a Plane #SOL21

On Sunday, I spent a good part of my afternoon watching my son during his flying lesson.  While it allows me to hug him and chat with him for a bit,  the best part is watching my 21-year-old "little" boy do something he loves.  I said "little" because when he is at the airport he is like a little kid in a candy shop.  I decided to write a playful limerick (definitely not a strength of mine) because of the pure joy that emanates from him when he is at the airport.

There once was a boy named Cam

and flying a plane was his jam

his flight check was stellar

so he could start the propeller

and ace the pilot program

I am excited to be participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Home Alone #SOL21

Scott and Ashley are in South Carolina touring universities, but I was not able to accompany them due to my school district’s travel restrictions.  So, what does one do when home alone?  

  1. Watch Gilmore Girls.  The only problem was I happened to be at the episodes when Rory goes off to college, so a few tears were shed.  

  2. Correct student work.  As much as my body is resisting this task, my mind reminds me how good it feels to be caught up on this work.  

  3. Clean the kitchen.  A tidy space makes me feel better.  Unfortunately, it became cluttered with all of my work and journals within an hour.

  4. Write and work in my notebooks.  Writing always makes me feel better.  

  5. Puzzle breaks.  I love puzzles.  They draw me away from my work.  I stayed downstairs so I could take breaks to work on my puzzle and watch Gilmore Girls.

  6. Meal preparation.  Since I am going to watch Cam’s flying lesson, I decided to cook some dinners for him.  It felt good to be doing something for my son.

  7. Walk with a friend.  Although it was cold, I was happy to spend some time outside with my friend.  

So, in a nutshell, I tried to stick to my routines and tasks so I would be productive.  This kept me from dwelling on the fact that I am not touring Ashley’s potential home for the next four years.  

I am excited to be participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Morning Pages, I've Missed YOU! #SOL21

The last few mornings have been crazy, and I’ve been off my game.  I’ve missed my morning pages.  

I’ve been writing every morning with my friends at Teach Write during Wake Up and Write, but I have focused on slicing.  I felt that preparation would be the key to success during this challenge.

I decided to process the crazy mornings here in my morning pages today.  

Monday - I bounced from topic to topic not liking anything I was writing.  I wanted to start the March Slice of Life challenge strong.  The change in writing and thinking threw me off.  I almost left my computer home, which would have made remote Monday impossible.  I forgot to put on the minimal makeup I apply in the morning, so the bags under my eyes were more pronounced, which is not a good look on camera.

Tuesday - After writing about my fish hunting, I went to school ready for the day until I found out something was wrong with the Google Form I prepared for asynchronous work and had to drop everything to fix it.

Wednesday - We just started a new schedule because we need to stream students at home into class for more time on learning.  We now stream students in at the end of the first period.  I was ready.  Students joined my Zoom meeting, and the announcements were ready for viewing.  Then, nothing.  I was kicked out of Zoom, and my Wifi dropped.  My aid had to take over.

Thursday - I was writing and slicing when my phone started to buzz.  My friend texted that she booked an appointment for the vaccine.  My writing was derailed completely as I started to attempt to schedule my own, which did not happen until I got to school. The hallways were buzzing with vaccine talk.

Friday, I spent time with my morning pages.  I wrote and dumped my thoughts onto the page.  The result was a positive and productive day AND a Slice of Life.

I am excited to be participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Sweet Culprits #SOL21

 We were walking around the quiet hallways of school before the second round of evening parent conferences, when Meg said, “Let’s leave a note and a treat for the staff on the second floor.”

“Okay, when?”  I asked.

“Tonight!”  she replied.

“After conferences?  At 8:00?”


We rushed back to our rooms.  We only had five minutes before our first meeting.  She got our secret stash of candy from our treasure box, and I prepared the notes.  

Two hours later, we emerged from our classrooms, and off we went to deliver our treats.

As we rounded the corner, the night custodians were standing in the hallway with two large trash bags and their coats on their backs.  They were ready to leave, and we were just starting out on our mission.  

It was late, so we decided to finish the one wing and continue on Monday.

The next morning, questions were flying.  Many thought the principal and vice-principal left the treats.  Their last names start with the same letters as our first names.  Later, the principal sent an email stating they were not responsible and the culprits were still on the loose.  We chuckled - a sweet little mystery.

Texts, emails, and drop-ins started with smiles and thank yous.  We enjoyed planting something small and sweet to make everyone’s day.  

Meg and I, we are partners in crime.  We are currently plotting to make our next mission possible.  

I am excited to be participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge!

Thursday, March 4, 2021

REST - Random Episodic Silent Thought #SOL21


During Laura Shovan’s February Poetry Project (absolutely fabulous), I was introduced to REST -

random episodic silent thought.  I learned from an article on the Power of Positivity website titled

“Neuroscientist Explains Five Secrets of the Creative Brain” that most of our creative ideas come

during this state.

This explains why many of my thoughts come when I least expect them - during quiet walks by myself, driving in the car, drifting off to sleep, and washing dishes.

The other night I was at the sink.  The water was running, the television was on in the background, and I was scrubbing away.  All of a sudden, a thought began to form in my head, and then it shaped itself into a line.

I turned off the water and walked to my desk, repeating it in my mind so I would not lose the words.  I sat down to write my first skinny poem that started “80’s hair was permed long locks.”  I continued to write another skinny poem beside it on current hair trends.

I finished up feeling quite accomplished.  I wrote a poem in a new-to-me form.  One of my goals for the evening was done.

I returned to my task at the sink.  The water was hot, and the dishes were disappearing.  Much to my surprise, another idea and line popped into my head - “I can’t believe it was you, dad, that tried to fix my betrayed heart.”  

Off I went to write a golden shovel poem, another new form I learned during the February Poetry Project.  Three poems were written in one night.

I have prepared myself for these times of REST.  I keep a journal by my bed, in my bag, in my purse, and in the car.  I even use my phone now to record my ideas when I don’t have a notebook.  

I will REST more and welcome these thoughts with a notebook and pen close by my side.

I am excited to be participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge!

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Fish Hunting #SOL21

My first task upon entering my classroom is to hunt for this fish, not feed it but find it.  It likes to hide, usually behind the filter.  

However, yesterday, it was NOT behind the filter.  

The hunt began with me contorting my body and head to look inside the blocks in the tank.  The clerk at the store said that Betta fish like to swim through things.  He could have mentioned they also like to hide inside them.  

My face was right up to the tank with my head upside down trying to see if he had floated to the top of the block.  Ever since the day I bought him, I have been afraid he would die.  

He was not there.  I gave up for a bit and got ready for class but kept glancing over to see if he had appeared.  

Two hours passed and still no fish.  

Next round - I got my ruler, took the lid off the tank, and plunged it into the water.  I jostled the block around, but no fish came out.  I peered into the filter.  Nothing.  I looked around outside the tank thinking someone might have taken him out (grasping at straws there).  Of course, there was no sign of a fishnapping.

I sat back down feeling frustrated. I was thankful it was remote Monday because the first thing the students do when they enter class is check the fish.  

I was not sure how much time had passed, but I looked up, and there he was just hanging out in the middle of the tank.  He was alive!  

Every day, I go through this.  He torments me by hiding, blending in, and not moving.  Even when we can see him, the students want proof of life, so I take the filter out to make him move around the tank.  

Fish, who will be named soon, I’ve figured you out.  I’m putting my ruler away.  There will be no more fish hunting for me. 


I am excited to be participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge!

Only One Vowel #SOLC23

 Betsy Potash of Spark Creativity always has wonderful ideas for the classroom.  Too often, I don't have the time to sit and read her po...