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Acorn half eaten

Scurried tracks to the right

Wing prints of predator

Left in mid-flight



#micropoetry    #SOL18

Snowshoeing through the woods with a friend a few weeks ago, we came upon a clearing and noticed quite a scuffle in the snow. The scene told the stark story of the circle of life. Sometimes what seems cruel to one, can be a blessing to another.
So whose prayers get answered?





Step over
  jump cut
     pivot and
dash ‘cross the pitch
  with little constraint.
Headers and
  chip shots,
     passes and spinners,
don’t need a score
      to recognize


#MicroPoetry  #SOL18

My son has played soccer since he was about four years old. To call it a passion is almost derogatory. I revel in watching him play, win or lose…and there has been much more of latter than the former. When circumstances align, however, and the score tips our way, there is no denying the joy that comes from watching a team celebrate their successful efforts.  Your mixture of ‘silly and serious’ have made watching this team so delightful.. Congrats to the “Isolated Thunderstorms” on winning the winter championship at the local soccer club last night-you were winners before the games, as well.



IMG_2189 2

I imagine



#micropoetry  #SOL18

The satisfaction that comes from creating something out of nothing is universal. Do we take the time to notice that divine accomplishment when we observe it? Do we give ourselves enough opportunities in life to experience it? The slices we craft this month are acts of creation. Let us take some time to appreciate that for ourselves and for others as we comment and connect. Writing is powerful. We are creators.



quick change

img_2191.jpgShe stepped
between numbers
the set


#micropoetry   #SOL18


There are too many cliches tossed out as advice to parents to live in the moment and remember, they won’t be little forever.  While they hold truth, they are tainted with an implication that perhaps we don’t, that were are somehow frivolous with our appreciation.  I have cherished every stage of this dancer’s life, but no amount of mindfulness can hold back the hands of time. I simultaneously mourn the loss of my babies while embracing the ‘child’ who is now. Last night Bailey danced at her college and I could not be there in person, but I was present.



Friend or   foe?

Do I want to know

what beast laid














#micropoetry    #SOL18

I live in Maine. The field behind my house is often a highway of animal tracks. We have coyote, foxes, raccoons, and possums as well as our more domesticated friends. I love to trying to determine the creator of each track and their intended destination before the warmth of the sun’s rays distorts them beyond recognition or melts them from memory.


A Slice At a Time

To slice      IMG_2230
   is to walk
    through your days
         with a writer’s eyes,
               a writer’s ears,
                         a writer’s heart. 

Everything pulses.
          Everything has weight.
                        Everything is story.



This month I will be enjoying tiny slices of life through micropoetry and photography.  If you ever doubt the power of writing to shape lives, I encourage you to try the Slice of Life Challenge for the month of March.   You will develop a mindfulness for living that will open your eyes, your ears, and your heart. 

Check it out here:  

Tiny Slices Still Taste Sweet

Starting March 1st I will be participating the The Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge for the 3rd year. (#SOL) The goal is to post a ‘slice of life’ on your blog every day for the entire month of March. What is a slice? A slice can be a snippet of your day, a moment in your life, a poem in your heart, or a memory on your mind. It is a chance for us to live a writerly life and contemplate story all around us.

Each time I have participated, I have found that small moments take on greater meaning. I realize the power I have to shape my own narrative. It really changes how I experience life for that month (and beyond).

I almost decided not to do it this month, however. I have so many commitments, especially in writing. I have a looming deadline for my book manuscript and multiple workshop presentations to prepare, but rather than make it an all-or-nothing proposition,  I have decided that I will take the challenge again, but set reasonable expectations for myself.

Lately I have been fascinated by micropoetry.  This is simply a genre of poetic verse that  is characterized by its extreme brevity. It isn’t limited by any rules other than constraints of any digital platforms you might post to (Twitter, for example has 280 characters). Some forms such as haiku, tanka, senryu and gogyohka are quite appealing to micropoets, but so is free verse.

My goal this month is to boil my slices down to their essence and extract meaning in a few well-chosen words and/or images and to post each day to this blog. I may even play around with Canva to integrate words and images on some days.

So if you are looking for my regular educational blog posts, you will have to wait until April. I won’t be sharing “What’s On My Book Radar”, but I’ll continue to post my reads on Facebook and Goodreads. I certainly won’t take offense for those who unsubscribe from my blog or turn off notifications for the month of March. You’ll see this logo on all of my #SOL posts for March.slice-of-life_individual

For those who stay, I’d welcome any feedback. I’ll be reading and commenting on others’ as well so, I would also encourage ALL teachers to try the Slice of Life this month.  Here is the link to sign up

And if you are interested in the Classroom Slice of Life Challenge you can get started here


What’s On My Book Radar?

Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 12.09.53 PMLONG WAY DOWN by Jason Reynolds

I knew Jason Reynolds was a brilliant writer, but I wasn’t ready for this. Jason’s impressive story telling is coupled with his luminous writing style in this tragic tale of a boy just trying to follow the rules handed down in his family.
1. Crying: Don’t. No matter what.
2. Snitching: Don’t. No matter what.
3. Revenge: Do. No matter what.
When Will’s brother Shawn is shot dead in front of him, Will knows what he has to do. At least he thinks he does. He retrieves his brother’s gun and takes the elevator down from his apartment, with plans to follow the rules. However, the elevator makes unexpected stops on the long way down and Will is confronted with those whose lives were forever changed by the rules. Told in powerful verse and authentic dialect this book will grab you and take you for a wild ride. Reynolds is quickly becoming one of my all time favorite authors. Check out all the awards that are accumulating on this jacket! 12+










Teachers: Heroes and Villains

We live in such divided times. Many people have  stripped the color from nuanced thinking and choose to think in black and white. They see what they want to see and resist ambiguity or broad-minded thinking. Our schools are not immune from this simplicity-seeking approach. We are constantly under scrutiny from the public and are somewhat of a Rorschach test for societies’ perceptions.

Teachers are frequently seen as heroes or villains. Often by the same people!

Teachers are heroes when they give up their lives to save their students’ under attack. But teachers are villains if they belong to the big-bad-union.

Teachers are givers if they selflessly stock their classrooms with books and supplies.    But teachers are takers if they dare ask for enough money to live on from tax payers.

Teachers are outstanding if their students’ test scores exceed the state average.                    Teachers are failures if their students’ success isn’t reflected by numeric indicators.

I could go on with examples, but you get the point.  Whatever ills society faces, it is often teachers who are expected to fix them. Or bear the burden of failure. Why don’t schools do this? Why did the school fail to address that? It can be incredibly disheartening. Especially during weeks like this one.IMG_2084

School shootings suck the breath out of us teachers. Shock and horror cannot begin to describe our reactions. Our empathy for those sister schools runs deep in our bones. We immediately imagine ourselves in the shoes of those teachers and feel their panic and devastation. We look at our students with such protective fierceness. We hug our own children tighter. We wonder, what we would do? How would we react? How would we and our students survive? It was a brutal week in so many ways.

So imagine my disgust when I see this trending on Twitter…


How quickly we shift from teacher as hero, to teacher as villain in our zeitgeist. ONE DAY after teachers laid down their lives. ONE DAY after teachers across this country witnessed yet another tragedy in our nation’s schools. ONE DAY!

And so as I villainously begin my February break, I reflect on my week as a teacher:

I didn’t spend my Valentine’s evening with my loving husband. I spent it at a school board meeting pitching a new reading and writing curriculum that I believe will enrich the lives our children, and was recognized for the two-year long journey to become a Nationally Board Certified Teacher.Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 8.28.06 AM

I participated in a Choice Day at one of my schools where each teacher volunteered their time and talents to teach students ‘extra-curriculars’ from yoga, to drumming, to crafting survival bracelets, and much more in between. A fellow teacher and I led groups of students on a snowshoeing expedition through the woods behind the school. None of these kids had ever been on snowshoes and their reactions were priceless.IMG_2052

I invited teachers in my district to add to a collective poem entitled “I LOVE TEACHING” and was moved by the passion and dedication for children expressed in their words.IMG_2028

I spent an afternoon with the incredible teachers in my district learning how to make science more exciting and engaging for our students so they could begin to be more curious about the world around them. So they could understand the importance of science and facts to question, understand, and make sense of the world.IMG_2086

I curated a collection of books from my local library to digest over vacation so that I can better match books and readers and share my passion for reading with them.IMG_2098

So I go into this break with a roller coaster of emotions knowing I can only control what I do as a teacher, and not how others will perceive me. I know we are vilified by many and always will be. I am heartbroken by the school tragedy in Parkland, Florida. But I take heart in knowing what I do makes a difference, and I am inspired when I see teachers lifting one another up.  Teachers will always be my heroes.

What’s On My Book Radar?

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 9.26.42 AM

Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds

Wow, this book was a page turner and not just because of its action-adventure mythos of Spider-Man, but because Jason Reynold’s created an intriguing life story for our hero-Miles Morales. Miles is a 16 year old black and Puerto Rican boy from Brooklyn, whose family has a troubled past. His parents are sacrificing a lot to send him to a prestigious school and break the cycle of crime and poverty. (Oh, and he’s also Spider-Man.) We learn the story of how this came to be and the uncle who was at the center of that tragic story.

We also meet his history teacher who espouses racists beliefs and preaches that slavery was a good thing. This gets Miles riled up and we learn there is an even more nefarious story beyond the classroom conflicts. With the help of his best friend, Ganke, Miles grapples with life as a teen: crushing on a girl, meeting a cousin in prison he didn’t know he had, avoiding expulsion after being set up…while simultaneously taking on an ancient organization of white supremacists who are using incarceration as the new slavery. Seriously-this book will grab you and not let go. Jason Reynold’s is amazing. Ages 12+

Getting My Point ACROSStic

I am of the fervent belief that teachers who write make the best writing teachers.  I know I am not alone in this. I follow and collaborate with others who share this view: Two Writing Teachers, started by Stacey Shubitz, TeachWrite, founded by Jennifer Laffin, and Teachers Write, started by Kate Messner. I find inspiration from these amazing people.

I know how busy teachers are; often balancing work and home life responsibilities. It’s not always that easy to commit to writing so I look for ways to make it accessible and inviting. One idea came to me when I  noticed my teacher friends writing great posts for Facebook that were humorous or heartfelt and I asked them if they’d be willing to share beyond their circle of friends. I created a blog for teacher writers called Just A Moment where these stories can find a home and other teachers can find inspiration. Some of the works on this site were originally created for the blog, but many others were “recycled” writing teachers had previously created. This approach is another way to encourage teachers to think of themselves as writers.Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 8.48.57 AM

I try to create writing opportunities that are collegial and supportive. I know writing can be isolating, and sharing can take courage, so we find safety in numbers. We have a group of teachers in my district who get together (infrequently) to write and share. I asked teachers at one of my schools to join in a group poem about the holidays. Contributors each shared a few lines and together we created a poem that we posted in the school. It didn’t take much time, and the collaborative aspect made us each feel more comfortable.

This last week I created a Padlet called Teacher Talk-Poetry Block and invited a number of teachers to create an acrostic poem that spoke to their passion, experiences, or beliefs about teaching and learning.  I started with an example and then others joined in.  Honestly, I am so inspired by their words but also by their courage. It didn’t take them long, but it did take moxie.

I would love to get more and more poems in this collection, so if you would like to contribute just click on the + in the bottom right corner and add your own acrostic. I will continue to look for ways to make writing more inviting and easy for teachers and I welcome any ideas you may have tried. Let’s support teacher writers-ourselves included!

Made with Padlet


What’s On My Book Radar?

BE KIND by Pat Zietlow Miller illus by Jen HillScreen Shot 2018-02-11 at 9.11.38 AM

BE KIND has been a mantra in schools for several years now, but what does that mean for a child. What specific actions can make a difference for others? This book explores that concept in a very tangible and accessible way. I think this book is perfect for young children, but middle grade readers could also read it and contemplate what kindness looks like for themselves and their peers. A GREAT book to stimulate conversation and action. If your school or classroom has focused on the theme “CHOOSE KIND”  you should choose BE KIND to support that!

Could You Be an NBCT?

This week Maine celebrated 50 new Nationally Board Certified Teachers at a pinning ceremony (along with several renewals). I joined two of my colleagues from the Augusta School district at this celebration. Next year we will go to celebrate the fourth member of our cohort who is working on this journey. Everyone in that room was feeling a sense of joy at their accomplishments, relief in their success, and respect for those around them. We all knew what it took to get us to this place. We all took this journey.Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 9.02.40 AM

Since certifying I have had several teachers ask me about the process and contemplated the challenge. Have you considered becoming a Nationally Board Certified Teacher? It’s not something everyone will be interested in. So, how do you know if it’s right for you? Maybe a place to start is asking yourself:

  • Am I someone who is continually looking for ways to hone my practice and tweak my talent?
  • Am I someone who is consistently striving to know my students and meet their needs?
  • Am I someone who knows my content and wants to instruct my students in ways that best helps them to learn it?
  • Am I someone who thinks systematically about my teaching practice and wants to learn from experience?
  • Am I someone who seeks to elevate the professionalism of teachers with a commitment to excellence?
  • Am I someone who is always looking for that next challenge to feed my growth mindset?
  • Am I someone who is looking for a learning community that will push me to be my best?
  • Am I at a place in my life where I can devote time and energy to an intense project?
  • Am I slightly crazy, obsessed, or driven to do more in life?

If you answer yes to many of these questions, board certification might be a great way for you to “up your game”.  Certainly it is not the only route- many teachers have PLNs  or are enrolled in graduate programs that elevate their thinking, pedagogy, and practice.  If there is one thing I have learned as a teacher, there are many paths to achieve outcomes and goals.

The National Board process is not easy. Most people do not certify on their first attempt. A colleague of mine missed it by one point!  But she has the heart of an NBCT because after her initial disappointment, she drafted a plan to move forward and reach that goal this year. THAT is grit. THAT is passion. THAT is what it takes to be an NBCT.

If you are interested in the process I’d love to chat with you. Connect with me on Twitter or email me through my webpage-  My best advice is to think about the time you have to commit to this process and be honest about what you can do. Then try to find colleagues to do it with. It can certainly be done alone, but there is power in a PLN that is working together on the same goal.  My colleagues in Augusta (Maureen, Caroline, and Katie) and a cohort through the Maine Education Association (led by Heidi and Melissa) were there for me every step of the way- I am forever grateful to them.

You can check out National Board’s webpage on WHY CERTIFY? for more information.

What’s On My Book Radar?

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 11.36.36 AMMary’s Monster by Lita Judge

In a word, this book is AMAZING. Lita Judge has created a masterpiece about a masterpiece! The poetic writing & haunting illustrations bring her research on Mary Shelley to life so beautifully. Using letters, diaries, and historic biographies Judge retells the story of Mary’s troubled life from her birth that resulted in her mother’s death, to being sent away by a wicked stepmother, to falling in love with a married man whose creative genius was rivaled by his madness, to the conception and creation of Frankenstein’s monster. Judge weaves this this gothic tale as a graphic novel in verse that evokes an eerie mood and irresistible page turning. Definitely for older readers as it deals with painful issues of teen pregnancy, infidelity, mental illness, and child abuse/neglect. Find out the true story of a pregnant teenage runaway who was able to pen the most famous horror story of all time.