Thursday, March 31, 2022

They're Not Happy with Mrs. Morris #SOLC22

Thursday, 4th period, with 4 minutes left in class and still another period to go until lunch

I look up from my book to see ten sixth grade students hunched over our class novel, Number the Stars, reading and listening intently.  

I know we are not going to finish the chapter, but I don't have the heart to stop.  I decide to let the audio continue to the end of the page.  

They don't move.  

We listen until we hear,  "Mama, what is this?" 

I push pause, and the commotion begins.  

One student throws himself back on his chair and yells, "NO!"

Another student looks up at me wide-eyed and shrieks, "You left us on a cliff hanger!"

Two more shout, "Can we keep reading?"

The bell rings, and they all gather their belongings, moaning how unfair it is that we can't keep reading. 

I smile and follow them out the door.  I walk across the hall to a group of my 8th graders who are working with my co-teacher.  

They look and state, "Mrs. Morris, your 6th graders are really mad at you!"   





Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Tons of Tik Toks #SOLC22

 My co-teachers are obsessed with Tik Tok.  They send about 5-10 a day (that may be a bit conservative).  They make me laugh, nod my head, shake my head, and sometimes even shout, "YES!"   

Last week, one of the co-teachers found a Tik Tok that posed the question What is one skill you are surprised your students do not have.  

The teacher's response was, "They can charge their phones, but they can't charge their Chromebooks."  

My response was, "OMG!  That is so true."

Our state standardized testing starts next week.  Students will be using their Chromebooks, and they MUST be charged.  This is making many teachers in the building very nervous.

Unfortunately, there are usually 3-5 students in every class that come in with dead Chromebooks, even in the first period of the day, and we have been using Chromebooks on a daily basis for over a year and a half! 

Fast forward to the next morning's first period.  Three students came in and immediately came looking for chargers because their Chromebooks were dead!

We could not resist.  We showed them the Tik Tok.  They laughed and sheepishly admitted it was the truth.  

Fast forward again to the next day.  One of the students proudly walked into the room stating, "Mrs. Morris, I charged my Chromebook last night.  I remembered to plug it in at 10:00 p.m."

One out of three is better than nothing.  The other two proceeded to hook up to the wall.  







Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Twenty Word Tuesday #SOLC22

 My favorite thing to do when I get home from work is to read the wonderful Slices of Life.  Thank you, Britt, for the inspiration today.  



Writing in the dark

before a day 

with no break-

teach, Dibels, 

teach, teach, teach

Dibels, teach

ending on stage





Monday, March 28, 2022

The Roll of the Dice #SOLC22

The other day I read a slice that was created using Taylor Mali's Metaphor Dice.  It reminded me that my friend gave me a box as a gift.  I took them out and rolled several times, but nothing inspired me.  I grew frustrated and put them away.  I decided to give it another try tonight.  Here goes...


The future 

is a mirror as black as midnight, 

which is to say

I cannot see myself

or where I am going.

I must find the light

to illuminate 

a healthier and stronger

version of myself.





Saturday, March 26, 2022

No Vacancy #SOLC22

 Last night, my husband warned me, "Did you see all of those holes in the grass?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Well, don't forget to close the garage when you leave in the morning.  We don't want another visitor because this time it will be a skunk."

He was alluding to the garage guest we had about one month ago.

***

I was sitting in my writing room on Zoom during Time to Write when I heard Crash! Bang! Bang! Bang! from below.  I left the room, thinking Scott was making a mess in the garage; however, I found him in the kitchen oblivious to the commotion. 

I proceeded to the garage and opened the door to find the recycling bin turned over, cups and seltzer water on the floor, and paper strewn everywhere.  

"Scott, something is in the garage!"  I yelled and quickly ran back inside.  

Begrudgingly, he set off to investigate while I went back to the safety of my writing.

A few minutes later, I heard Bang!  Tap! Tap! Tap!  And then, my phone dinged with a text message and a picture.


We had a guest, a possum, who must have thought we had a vacancy since both of our kids are at college.  He would not budge even though Scott was trying to nudge/scare it with a broom handle.  Instead of moving from his perch, he grabbed onto it with its forelimbs and teeth.  

Scott eventually gave up.  The next day he went out to the garage but could not find him.  He searched and banged around the garage trying to find him to no avail.  The possum had disappeared, but we knew he was still inside.  Scott left the garage open, hoping he would leave.  

I refused to enter the garage for days.  I would get to our third car by leaving through the front door.  

Scott convinced me he was gone because he had supposedly searched everywhere, so I started to drive my own car, which was parked in the garage, but I got into it quickly and never lingered.  I swear I could feel its presence, that it was watching me from above.

The nights were quiet.  We did not see anything knocked over, on the ground, or out of place.  We both thought he had to have left when the door was left open.

Approximately one week after the possum's arrival, Scott went into the garage to put the garbage out for pick-up.  He grabbed the garbage pail and looked inside and found our guest curled up with some discarded peanut candies all around him.  The possum did not move; he was playing dead.  

Scott grabbed a recycling bin to put over the top, dragged it out to the driveway, and turned the bucket over.  Meanwhile, I closed the garage door from inside the house, so he could not get back inside, and watched from the window.  It was dark and cold out.  The possum did not come out right away.

Eventually, I saw him waddle out and skitter to the top of the driveway and cross the street.  He was gone!  I saw it with my own eyes!  

Needless to say, we have made it very clear that we have no vacancy and do not want any guests to take up the extra space we have now that the kids are gone.  The doors have been closed tightly...for the most part anyway.


 


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Fun with Magnetic Poetry #SOLC22

I find inspiration from other slicers daily.  Today, I played with magnetic poetry.  It is not as easy as one would think.  Here is my end result.







Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Not Prepared #SOLC22

I cried twice before 10:30 this morning.

7:35 a.m.

Tuesday means morning bus duty.  I usually monitor the library for students who want a quieter place to start the day.  I decided to bring Love that Dog with me as I was at the end, and we are planning to use the book as part of our poetry unit.

No one prepared me!  I was sitting in the chair reading away when BAM!  The car hit the dog!

And, my tears started to flow.  Yes, I tend to cry when watching a sad episode or movie on TV and when reading a sad book.  This hit me hard, though.  It brought back the loss of our cat Daisy.  

Thankfully, I was around the corner, so it was hard to see me.  Unfortunately, it was hard to ignore my sniffles and nose-blowing.  

10:15 a.m.

My watch vibrated.  I looked down to see a text flash by from Ashley.  My daughter is a freshman at the University of Wisconsin.  I rarely get texts from her during the week.  Truth be told, I am usually the initiator of most of the texts.  

Surprised and perhaps a bit worried, I looked at the text as it was my prep period.

From Ashley:  Where the Crawdads Sing is becoming a movie so I want to read it before it comes out.  Maybe we can go see it together.




First, she WANTS to read.  Second, she WANTS to go to the movies with me.  Third, she is thinking of me in the morning.

The tears started again.  This time I let them come and confirmed my movie date with Ashley.







 


Monday, March 21, 2022

Lunch Ladies Rule #SOLC22

A few years ago, my co-teacher and I started a healthy meal swap.  We cooked two different meals on the weekend and brought in 5 servings of each, which meant our lunches were prepped for the week and 5 dinners for the week for the busiest of nights.  

This practice has evolved over the years.  Now, we have 5 teachers who participate.  We each prepare 5 servings of one meal for each other, and we enjoy 5 different lunches during the week.  I have learned to love things I would never cook on my own, such as Brussels sprouts, spinach, eggplant, and chickpeas - just to name a few.  

I love the variety and the fact that I do not have to think about lunches for the rest of the week, but I also love the camaraderie this group has created.  We share TikToks, funny stories, and recipes in a group chat.  It has brought me closer to my colleagues and out of my classroom.

Our menu for this week includes:

  • Crustless broccoli and cheddar quiche with a side of potatoes
  • Pasta Fagioli
  • Pappardelle pasta with portobello mushroom ragu
  • Cheesy eggplant gnocchi Caprese
  • Eggplant roll-ups

Thank you Tracy Brosch for the inspiration.




Sunday, March 20, 2022

Food Brings Us Together #SOLC22

About six months ago, I cooked for the last time with my grandfather.  We made his pasta fagioli (I still have one container left in the freezer).  It was a special day.  He loved food, both cooking and eating it.

Yesterday, Cam and I made our last trip to his house to pick up some mattresses and a workbench.  My husband was away, and I think Cam knew I should not be alone as I was sad leaving the empty house, knowing we would never return again.  He dropped his stuff off at college and drove home to spend the night.

We went shopping to stock him up with food for the month, and we bought filet mignon to grill at home.  We cooked dinner together.  I made potatoes, and he made glazed carrots and grilled the steaks.  

We do not cook together often as he is rarely home to do so, but we worked well together in the kitchen.  Instead of bumping into each other, we weaved around each other.  It is almost like a choreographed dance.

It felt special, so I found my great Aunt Audie's china for dinner and set the table.  I poured us some wine in Papa's green wine glasses we picked up a few weeks ago.  

When we sat down, we clinked our glasses together and ate, and we talked about the future.  Cam graduates in May and already has a job lined up.  Many things will be changing for him.  

Physical pieces from Aunt Audie and Papa were with us last night, but the lessons and influences from all of our ancestors live in and through us every day.   They have shaped us, and it felt special to see those pieces and to practice them last night with my son. 





Saturday, March 19, 2022

A Vision for the Rest of the Year #SOLC22

I find so much inspiration from reading other Slices of Life.  

This year started out rough for me, so when I read Trina's slice today, which was inspired by Elisabeth, I perked up a bit.  She wrote about the 10 things she would like to get to this year.  As I start to come out of the winter doldrums, this is exactly where my mind wanted to go this morning.

Here are 10 things I hope to accomplish this year:

  • watching my daughter dance with her Dance Elite team at UW Madison 
  • building a raised bed garden and start plants from seed
  • taking a knitting and/or crocheting class
  • visiting my parents in Venice, Florida, and spend as many days as possible on the beach
  • replacing the carpeting in the house
  • visiting the Bellamy-Ferriday house and gardens in CT
  • attending a football game at UW Madison
  • meeting in-person some writing friends in July
  • painting Cam's bedroom and get a new desk for writing
  • taking a poetry class
and a few more because I wanted to keep going

  • reading 50 books
  • walking new rail trails with a friend
  • reading a poem a day
  • eating dinner at Pickity Place with friends
  • spending a day at Release 
What would go on your list?





Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Nature Calls (not to the bathroom) #SOLC22

Today, I made a decision to put work aside this evening to join the sun and birds for a walk.  I needed that breath of fresh air and companionship.

This morning
the birds tweeted,
"Heather, come play."

Their songs, such temptation, 
yet I turned in rejection.
Sorry, birds, I must work.

Early evening light
beckoned me outside,
"Heather, come out."

The sun, a long lost friend,
so work I must offend,
Wait up, I'm coming!




 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

I am joining the Slicer Writer Retreat #SOLC22

Thank you, Leigh Anne Eck, for the invitation to this much-needed retreat.  I am packing my writing bag right now.  

Here is the invitation:

"So, imagine yourself being with other writers in a cabin tucked away in a world of lush green fields surrounded by beautiful flowers blooming under blue skies and perfect temperatures."

I have my Delde pen pouch full of Paper Mate Ink Joy pens and Blackwing pencils. 

While I will bring my computer to keep in touch with my writing community, I prefer to write in my journals.  I will start my day in my Morning Pages journal, spend the afternoon in my poetry journal while working through Georgia Heard's Writing Toward Home, and end the day in my notebook.  I dug out The Art of Noticing to bring on the retreat, as well.  I am looking forward to spending some time reading about writing.  I would also bring my Lifeprint printer so I can take some photos for my journal.

I am bringing my Yeti to fill up in the morning with my Celsius Energy drink (no coffee or tea for me) and water for the rest of the day.  I am packing some peanut M&Ms and Sweedish Fish for some picky sugary treats.    

My favorite quote:  "It's never tos late to be what you might have been."  by George Eliot

Who knows maybe I will pen a piece that is worthy of publishing on this wonderful retreat.




Monday, March 14, 2022

"It's Just Another Manic Monday" Until... #SOLC22

Monday.  I missed my morning writing and rolled into work a bit overwhelmed.

I spent before school and my first period cleaning up the classroom and finalizing plans with my co-teacher as I had a meeting during our first class, and she was flying solo.

As I was unplugging my computer to leave, a little hand crept in front of me and dropped three curled-up strips of paper onto my keyboard.  


I looked up and saw one of my students walking back to their seat.

I opened up each strip to find three encouraging quotes that were important reminders as I began my day with students.  

Catching their eye, I said, "How did you know that these were the words I needed to hear this morning?"  


These words and their return smile touched my heart and reminded me that students care about us, too.  







Sunday, March 13, 2022

5:30 a.m. (but really 4:30 a.m.) Wake Up #SOLC22

 It is hard work worrying from a distance.  

Yesterday, my 22-year-old son left for Florida, flying on his own for the first time.  He had a layover in Detroit where his connecting flight was canceled.  He took it all in stride.  He rebooked the flight, received some meal vouchers, and was put up in a hotel.  It was not ideal, but he made the best of it in the company of a few good beers.  

And then...


I haven't even left my chair, and I feel as if I was the one who sprinted through the airport.  The worrying is awful.  Cam took care of the situation calmly, positively, and confidently, probably much better than the others in his situation.  



Saturday, March 12, 2022

A Virtually Silent Visit #SOLC22

 I don't remember a time when my classroom has been so quiet.  Ten pairs of eyes were glued to the screen.  The students did not move the entire period, except to get closer to the television.  

Yesterday, my co-teacher took our students on a virtual tour of the annex the Frank family hid in for 761 days.  We had our students read a Scholastic article about Anne Frank as a background builder for our work with Lois Lowry's Number the Stars.  This year, we were able to add to the reading by using an Oculus headset.  

They were amazed that the narrated quotes were from her diary and wanted to hear more.  

At the end, their hands shot up.  

"Who turned them in?"  

"What happened to Miep Gies?"

"What happened to Anne?  How did she die?"  

And the last comment before the bell rang, "Mrs. Morris, this seems so long ago, but there could be someone still alive who experienced what Anne did."  

We've got them hooked.  They are so excited to read our next novel and are begging to start.  



Thursday, March 10, 2022

Nature's Performance #SOLC22

When I left for school this morning, it was a winter wonderland.  I was bundled up for the day.  As I walked out of the building after 4:00 p.m., I felt as though I might have missed a day.  The snow was gone, and the air was warm.   







Winter grasps onto                  

nature's stage, not wanting the

performance to end











Sun moves into the

spotlight, grandstanding the snow

standing ovation





Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Little Things #SOLC22

 Sometimes, the simplest things make me smile.  I started writing about the word antics today, but then I decided to scrap the post and make a list of the things that made me smile today.  

1.  Excitement for the start of our Genius Hour work today

2.  A student answered my question with, "Hammer time?"

3.  A hug from a student after I wished him a happy birthday

4.  A student was reluctant to leave class because she wanted to finish the assignment

5.  Nailing administering the Dibels reading assessment

6.  Bubble pop keychain excitement

7.  Dancing to music in my classroom after school.  Sometimes one just needs to "dance it out."

8.  "Mrs. Morris, can we please read?"

9.  A vanilla shake from my hubby

10.  A rave observation report



Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Prick me, please! #SOLC22

 I never thought that I would look forward to someone sticking me with needles, but I needed to do something to help me with the emotions of the last year as they are wreaking havoc with my body.  I am writing a skinny poem in honor of the hour I just spent at acupuncture.

When the needle punctures my skin

energy 

flows

freely

energy

pulses

hotly

energy

changes

the skin when the needle punctures





Monday, March 7, 2022

Forever a Dance Mom #SOLC22

I am a dance mom, now and forever.  

I have to say that is probably the thing I miss most from my nesting mom days.  There was nothing more moving than watching my daughter come alive on the stage doing what she loved.  

Yes, it was stressful, time-consuming, and expensive, but nothing could dampen the spirit and emotion she brought to a dance.  

As she entered high school, she wanted to do other things, such as play soccer and participate in unified track.  While she continued to dance, one could tell that Ashley wanted more in her life than just dance.  Being a competitive dancer, involvement in other activities created some conflict.  The pressure doused some of her passion for dance.

When she decided to attend the University of Wisconsin, she was unsure whether she wanted to continue to dance, and that near broke my heart.  We had many discussions, and in the end, I knew that I needed to back off and let her find her way.

On Friday night while I was out with a friend, I received a text from her that made my heart sing.

From Ashley:  Driving to Indianapolis for dance now and I think the best decision I’ve made in college is to join this team 🥳

The joy and passion for dance are back, and she found it on her own terms.  I am excited to go see her dance in her Showcase in April.  

Thank you to Books on the Back Porch for the inspiration today.

Here is my tiny dancer years ago and now.  

The joy of being on stage. 
College dancer




Sunday, March 6, 2022

Dispersing a Generation #SOLC22

Today, I returned to my grandfather's house to pick up furniture and other items I would like to keep.  His house will be someone else's in two weeks, and his belongings are being dispersed to family members and Goodwill in preparation for the closing.  

As we turned the corner and his house came into view, I could not help but think that it looked empty and lifeless, even from the outside.  His chairs were no longer on the porch, and the wreath was no longer on the door.

When I walked into the living room, my heart caught because his chair was empty.  I guess my heart was hoping he would be sitting in the chair waiting for us.  The house was eerily quiet and pieces of it were already missing.  

There were certain things I wanted that reminded me of him, and we immediately started packing things into the car.  In reflection, I realize that I think I have something for each room - a bookshelf for Cam's room/my office, tables for our family room, glasses for the kitchen, milk glass for the dining room, a side table for the great room, Christmas carolers to store in the basement, a workbench for the shop, and even his gardener's cart for outside.  

When we were in the basement going through things, I noticed an old stool covered with a plaid shirt.  

I whispered to my brother, "I think that might be Pa's stool from his workshop."  

He responded, "It had a green seat."  

We walked over and uncovered the seat to find the old olive green padded seat from our memory.  It was the stool that my great grandfather had in his own workshop.  We had spent many hours in that shop, and if we were lucky, Pa would let us sit on his stool.  

"Todd, you take it and put it in your shop," I urged.  He was not taking much from the house, but you could see that he wanted the stool.  He looked at me with eyes that said, Are you sure?  I nodded.

He walked over, grabbed the stool, and immediately put it in his car.  

Both of our houses are full, but one can always make room for more pieces that hold memories and were touched by loved ones.  

 

Papa's medals and flag are with my dad in Florida.
Papa loved wine, and I wanted some of his wine glasses.

Pa's stool, which now resides at Todd's house.




Saturday, March 5, 2022

5-4-3-2-1 Reflect #SOLC22

 Every week I like to take some time to reflect on the week.  I have used this format, which was inspired by another writer for a year now.  It is the perfect way to end a week.





Thursday, March 3, 2022

Snippets #SOLC22

 Today was a long day; it was parent-teacher conferences.  Here is a list of 5 snippets from my day.

1.  Woke up and wrote with friends on Zoom.✍

2.  Students were excited to write instructions on how to build a Lego figure.😄

3.  Co-teacher sent me Tik Tok videos that caused me to belly laugh.🤣

4.  Fantastic conversations with parents.👄

5.  My husband dropped off dinner for me.  🍲

Ending my day writing my slice of life.





Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Let's Boogie! #SOLC22

 

Where are the students?  Why they are in the midst of a preposition boogie, or more specifically the "under the chair" move.  

I try to incorporate movement whenever I can to engage more parts of the brain during learning.  

Today, my students started to write instructions on how to build a simple Lego figure.  They love this writing activity, and it is a great opportunity to teach the importance of description and the function of words, such as prepositions.  

As a warm-up, I had the students participate in a preposition boogie with their chairs before they started to plan the steps.  As I called out statements, they moved in unison to the same places.

"Students stand behind your chair."  They moved.

"Students stand next to your chair."  They moved.  

When I asked them what word or words were causing them to move in the same way, I heard, "Behind!  Next to!"  And then the dance went on.

A few moves later, I called, "Students move under your chair!"  

They responded, "Under!"  Then, I saw nine bodies drop to the floor.  They squirmed and giggled while I smiled.  

After a few minutes, I yelled their next move, "Around the chair."  I watched and listened.  Some students scooted right out and started circling their chairs.  Others yelled, "Hey, I'm stuck."  With a little assistance from their friends, they joined those still moving around their chairs.  

"Students sit on your chair!"

Many students sat and sighed, "Oh man!"  One student placed his behind on the back of his chair and feet on the seat until I stated, "Sit on the seat of your chair."  

Now, they are warmed up to begin their partner writing exercise.  As I watched them move into their spots to work, I can't help but wonder if anyone may have walked by and wondered What is going on in Heather's class?






Tuesday, March 1, 2022

It's Been a While #SOLC22

 

Today was a long day filled with new and unexpected meetings, changes, and items that kept
me on my toes and required me to stay sharp and focused.  I left school pretty worn out,
thinking about the various things I needed to get done at home before I could plop myself
down on the couch.

I walked into the house with little time to spare before I needed to hop onto Zoom for a tutoring session.  As I ascended the steps into the kitchen, I was greeted by a dozen roses standing on a clean, shiny counter.  

“Wow!” I gasped.  “It’s been a long time since I came home to flowers.”  

I hugged my husband.  He always knows when I need a boost, and he tends to surprise me when I least expect it.  

I sat down across from the flowers with a smile on my face, thinking again that it had been a long time since Scott had given me flowers.  

Then, a thought crept into my mind, and I said, “Daisy is not here to eat them.”  Our cat died two weeks ago from congestive heart failure.  

She loved to chomp on any type of plant, and we limited what we brought into the house because we did not want her to get sick.  

Scott smiled tentatively and stated, “That’s why I bought you flowers.”

I sat there wistfully, and for the first time, I was able to think about Daisy without crying.  Instead, I remembered her crazy love for flowers. 

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


in the box #SOL

 I did not know if I had a Slice of Life in me tonight.  I have felt that way for a while.  I love when a simple prompt takes you somewhere ...