Wednesday, February 29, 2012


This blog came about in response to a writing challenge I accepted on a whim. It was March 1, 2009, and The Two Writing Teachers website was hosting their second annual Slice-of-Life Story Challenge. The idea was essentially to write  "a small sliver of your ordinary life. It’s not the whole, but a slice. The only point to it is sharing a piece of your writing every day." That seemed do-able to me, and here's what I wrote:

We're preparing for a big snow storm here. The timing and conditions seem perfect for a day or two off from school-- the snow is supposed to start this afternoon and accumulate 4-8 inches (or more!) throughout the night, the temperature is predicted to stay below freezing all day tomorrow-- not all that common in Virginia. The other teachers I've talked to today are making a point of not getting their hopes up, for fear of not only having to rise before dawn tomorrow, but of doing so with the extra burden of disappointment.

I won't mind going to school tomorrow, but I wouldn't mind an extra day off, either. When I was a little girl, my mother made sally lunn and spiced tea for us when it snowed. Sally lunn is a yeast bread, enriched with eggs and butter, and the tea was mixed with orange juice, sugar, and cinnamon. I have my sally lunn rising in the kitchen right now.

A few things have changed over the last three years. Heidi's vegan, so sally lunn is rarely on the menu. That's kind of a non-issue though, because the forecast for tomorrow is a sunny 70 degrees.

Today I introduced my students to our own second annual Slice-of-Life Story Challenge. Last year I adapted the premise from TWT, and it turned out to be a hit with the kids. My fingers are crossed for another successful season of slicing.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Headin' South

What a day, what a day! Taking a day off is always a treat, but a teacher pays for it on both ends, first by investing the time to make explicit sub plans so that someone else can guide your charges through their educational day, and then by picking up the pieces when you get back: someone's always in trouble; someone's always mad; someone didn't "get" the assignment (be it literally or figuratively), and no one understands why anyone's upset.

As if that wasn't enough, beyond the door of my classroom there are big changes afoot: a new principal for our school, a very large increase in enrollment for the sixth grade, and a new state-mandated teacher evaluation system. To be honest, my school year began with an earthquake, and it's like the ground is still moving.

Still, you have to find fun where you can. An hour after the last bell had rung, a couple of colleagues and I were griping and grappling with the future. We bantered about what opportunity might be found in all of this upheaval, and the best we could come up with was a change in name for the sixth grade teams. "Bluebirds and Canaries?" I suggested. "It would be cool to have one team for each of the school colors."

And then the conversation quickly flew south (as such conversations held at the end of a long day in the middle of a long year have the tendency to do) to that tropical place where sixth grade teams bask in the glory of their mascots the Blue Peeps and the Twinkie d'Oros.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Winter Break

A happy confluence of events today: our annual post-Oscar night holiday and 66 degrees in February made the beach an irresistible destination. Sometimes it's easy to forget how close we live to the Chesapeake Bay and its fascinating, fossil-filled western shore, but at 10:30 on a regular Monday morning, believe me, you can get there in waaaay under an hour.

We started our day at Brownie's Beach, a little public park that at this time of the year has free parking. We had the place all to ourselves as we beachcombed and boardwalked our way up and back to the town of Chesapeake Beach, with a wet and happy dog and a couple of pieces of sea glass to show for it. Next it was on to North Beach, a classic shore town that, although most places were shuttered for the season, had quite a few happy people playing by the water and strolling on the boardwalk.

It was one of those days I know I'll look back on for the rest of my life and remember the literally golden glow of the winter sun as it warmed the sand and the water.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Here it is, our annual Oscar bash and time to make my picks for the pool. Along with the fun comes a yearly dilemma-- do you choose the ones you like or choose the ones you think will win?

Saturday, February 25, 2012


I remember once when I was 11 or 12, my cousins had a minibike. They lived on a pretty big piece of land, and so they rode it all over their yard. The first time I was on it, I panicked and rode straight into a lilac bush, and that was actually the last time I ever piloted any kind of motorcycle.

Driving a car was a whole different thing, though. Living on a college campus in the middle of nowhere, I couldn't wait to learn, and once I did? I always felt confident at the wheel. Even today, I love me a road trip, and on any such outing I will always volunteer to drive.

Over the years I've noticed, with surprise, that not everyone shares my enthusiasm. First of all, there are the people I know who do not drive at all. Next, there are those who avoid it whenever they can. But then, there are also plenty of folks like me and Cindy Lauper who will drive all night.

I get that driving can be scary at first, and is always dangerous. Experience helps (in fact, now that I've been driving for 30 years or so, I'm ready to revisit that minibike thing: sometimes I think a Vespa or some other scooter or moped might be a good way for me to get to work. I do, after all, have a very short commute.), but that information is not comforting to a new driver.

I have three teen-aged nephews who did not embrace driving, but to be honest, they didn't have to. They live within easy distance of subway and other public transportation, and they have friends who are usually willing to drive them where they want to go. They also had a grandmother who lived her entire 72 years without driving.

I also have a godson around the same age as those other guys, and he can't wait to get his license and buy a car. Of course, he lives in a place where that is really the only way around, and his dad is definitely a king of the road-- that guy will drive anywhere, anytime.

Nature, nurture? Who can say?

 A few months ago, I heard a piece on the radio about how driverless cars might just be a reality in the not so distant future. In such a scenario, nobody would own their own vehicle, rather we would reserve or order one to take us where ever we needed to be. These cars would be guided by a central computer, and so not only would they eliminate traffic fatalities, but they would also be able to route all vehicles efficiently, thus avoiding congestion. Presumably, we would receive accurate travel time information as well, which would make planning trips much easier.

I want to go on record right now: It sounds very reasonable. Yes, it does, but...

 I don't like it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Border Patrol

So my students are writing fiction, and one of the unintended consequences of the activity is that this year, like every year, I have to police that fine line between creative license and what's appropriate for school. It's no secret that freedom and choice are key components in engaging students, but what about those kids who want to write about pregnant teens, drug abuse, incest, and cannibalism? For some reason, the topics that this group has chosen feel more challenging than those of the recent past.

Why does this not surprise me?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fall Guy

We suffered an annoying snafu at school today when as the result of poor planning we were directed to have all of our homeroom students phone home to schedule their parent-teacher-student conference for next Friday. Unaware that anything was out of the ordinary with this plan, my sixth graders were game to call their folks, but a little confused as to what to say. "Just say that we got the materials this morning and we want to let people know as soon as possible," I suggested somewhat disingenuously.

The first guy picked up the receiver and dialed confidently, probably because I often ask him to call home and ask his parents to remind him to bring in all manner of signed things from report cards to field trip slips. His mother answered, and although I could not understand the conversation word for word (it was in Tigre), I did understand that it wasn't going as planned. "What time does she want?" I asked after he hung up with a sigh.

"She didn't say a time," he answered. "She was mad."

"Why?" I asked.

"She told me I should have asked her about this yesterday, and we'll talk about it tonight," he said.

I nodded sympathetically. Right sentiment, wrong target.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On Walden Pond

Year by year the number of field trips and special activities we plan for our students is eroded by the time teachers feel they need to prepare kids for the tests they must take. It's hard to convince colleagues that this or that activity is worth the loss of instructional time in their classes, especially when they are being held accountable for their students performance on all manner of standard assessments.

As much as I sympathize, I just can't get on board with that kind of thinking. Maybe it's because as a writing teacher, I am reminded of Thoreau's observation: How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.

Isn't it our job to show the kids how to stand up to live, too?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teacher's Dilemma Number 221

There was word today that a very challenging student is moving. Do we feel relieved? If so, do we feel guilty?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Words for Snow

We put the dog in the station wagon and headed over the bridge for a walk around the Tidal Basin on this sunny President's Day. It was busy but not crowded as we circled by the new MLK memorial, through the FDR, and past the Jefferson on the newly re-opened promenade. As warm as it has been, the cherry trees showed no sign of abnormally early blossoming, and for that I was glad. I don't know exactly what mankind is doing to the climate, but I worry.

Of the four short documentaries we saw yesterday the one that stayed with me most was called The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossoms. The film opened with horrific footage of a black wave relentlessly pushing inland, scouring away every car, every building, and every person in its way and tumbling them along as it moved toward the camera. The movie continued as a story about the unimaginable loss incurred by the survivors of the March 2011 tsunami until it took a rather skillful turn to the tradition and symbolism surrounding the cherry blossoms.

Who knew that the Japanese have identified ten separate phases of bloom and have a word for each? That the annual return of the blossoms is a treasured symbol of both renewal and endurance? That the countless petals that combine to create such a wondrous spectacle are considered representative of the innumerable and anonymous citizens whose efforts make Japan the nation it is?

In light of such awareness, it can't be a surprise that there are thousands of haikus written about sakura, or the cherry blossom season. Here is one by Issa:

Live in simple faith...
just as this simple cherry
flowers, fades, and falls.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Long Weekend Short

The best consequence of the continuing commercialization the Academy Awards is the release of 15 films we might never see otherwise. Animated, Live Action, and Documentary-- going to the theater to watch the Oscar-nominated shorts is always a highlight of our February. It is the antidote to all those big-budget blockbusters (as much as I love 'em), and a reminder that there is so much more to the art than the industry of the movies.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gentleman Where Am I?

I love my iPad... except when I don't. An errant keystroke just deleted three paragraphs of tonight's post. It was good stuff, too, all about crazy right-wing novels, time traveling, and various ways of bringing Abraham Lincoln back from the dead, but now it belongs to the ages.

Friday, February 17, 2012


A little after noon yesterday our school lost all phone and network connectivity. At first it was a minor nuisance, for example we could not produce grade reports for the parent conference we had scheduled at 1:30, but we apologized and made it through without any trouble. As the outage persisted, though, we were reminded again and again of how dependent we are on technology, mostly because we could not access most of the instructional materials and information that we have come to rely on.

Late in the afternoon, a couple of my colleagues who were going to be out today were trying to make sub plans. One wrote everything by hand, which took several hours, and the other made arrangements to email everything so that it could be printed out this morning. Imagine the frantic phone call I got after he tried to contact school and realized that everything was still down. He was on his way to California and there were no student rosters, no printable copy of the vocabulary quiz he was giving, and the computer labs he had booked for his classes were useless.

Of course we improvised and everything turned out fine. But as the network was slowly restored throughout the day, it was uncomfortable and a little disturbing to realize just how critical this fragile web we have woven is.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

View From Below

One of the occupational hazards of teaching younger kids is developing an inflated view of yourself. Such a skewed perspective can be difficult to avoid after spending years being the smartest (not to mention usually the biggest and the strongest) one in the room. Oh, there are always those who will test you, but most of us adults can best an eleven-year-old in any battle of wits. (Once a student asked a colleague of mine if it was Idaho or Udaho. "You tell me," my friend answered. See what I mean?) Such a professional life might at least explain, if not excuse, the arrogance of some teachers. (OK, me.)

Aaaah, but this Writing Club I co-sponsor could just be the antidote to this condition. Thursday after Thursday for an hour after school, I get totally outwritten by those kids, and today was no exception. They are funny, bold, creative, and really, really good writers. They are definitely serving up some humble pie, but I kind of like it.

Thank goodness they're still shorter than I am.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ode to the Ode

I had a guest poet scheduled to visit my class yesterday. The timing was perfect-- poetry and Valentine's Day?-- and this particular poet and I have worked together for the last 4 years. Even so, I still had a nagging feeling that something was going to go wrong.

Later when I told the story, a colleague of mine said, "I'm going to start asking you for lottery numbers! You were right about this; you're usually right about the snow..." and she continued with a list of other accurate predictions I've made over the years. I liked that. I like thinking I have a little bit of a sixth sense, but as far as the lottery goes? I predict I'm not going to win it anytime soon.

At any rate, prescience is of no value unless you act upon it, and in this particular case, I did not. 8:15 AM found me desperately texting my poet buddy while making small talk with my first period class about how great our visiting artist was going to be. At 8:20 I kicked into emergency mode and began improvising a lesson about odes. Who knows where that came from? It certainly helped that I own a copy of Neruda's Odes to Common Things, and the Valentine's Day angle made things easier, too, but I truly believe that the key ingredient to what turned out to be a very successful activity was our collective focus on the positive.

For me this has been a tough year with a challenging group of kids, so the opportunity for each of us to express our appreciation for those things, both large and small, that make us happy, that make our lives a little easier, was priceless. Yesterday was a very good day.

Post Script: The poet overslept. He called at 9:30 to apologize profusely, and we rescheduled for tomorrow. I do have a back-up plan, but I don't think I'll need it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

That Was Then; This Is Now

It has long been our tradition to have heart-shaped pizza on Valentine's Day:

But, since she's been vegan, pizza just hasn't been the same for Heidi. So tonight's menu is heart-healthy rather than heart-shaped:

I don't care what we have, as long as she likes it and it makes her happy. Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Wish it Was Sunday

It was a groggy Monday this morning, maybe because a bunch of the students had stayed up to watch the Grammys, or maybe because I had. At any rate, there was a bit of sluggish discussion about the events of the weekend as my homeroom students organized their binders in super slo-mo. Not surprisingly, the topic of Whitney Houston's death kind of meandered around the classroom. At the age of eleven and twelve, most of the kids knew the name, but were generally unfamiliar with her work. "You know what I hate?" one of them said in reference to her passing. "I hate it when people get rich after they die! My brother told me all her songs are number one on iTunes."

His comment prompted confused looks from his classmates, but as it was Monday morning, they let it go, and so did I.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


There's been a lot of press lately about Susan Cain's introvert's manifesto, Quiet. An off the charts 'I' myself, I downloaded and read the free preview as soon as I heard about the book. It's received mixed reviews, from both introverts and extroverts alike, but I think that its premise that being outgoing may be erroneously perceived as superior has some merit.

I have a friend and colleague with whom I have worked for almost 15 years who is an extreme extrovert. We eat lunch together every day, and our relationship works in part because she willingly initiates the conversation on a daily basis. Over the years we've become close enough to laugh at just how introverted I am, and I know that she accepts me.

She is a special education teacher, and a good one, and she and I agree that the best approach is to meet the needs of the individual students where they are, whether they have been identified formally or not, and often I turn to her for advice in making accommodations in my class. I like to think that my own experience makes me a good resource, too, and not surprisingly, our lunchtime conversation frequently revolves around the challenges we're facing on the team.

Not long ago she was describing a situation where a certain student neither wanted to work in a group nor make a presentation in the social studies class she pushed in to. Based on our knowledge of the kid, the other teacher, the class, and the assignment, we bandied strategies to get that student on board with the activity. This was before I had heard of Cain's book, but as we were talking it occurred to me that maybe, since this child was an introvert, we were asking too much. "Why should he have to do that if it's against his nature?" I asked.

This was new ground for both of us, and my friend reacted as if I was being less than serious (which of course I often am in these conversations-- after all, it's lunch time). "No really," I said, "why do we force kids who are uncomfortable with interpersonal stuff to do it anyway?"

"Um, because they're going to need those skills in the future?" my friend answered.

And all of a sudden I glimpsed a grand extrovert bias that has permeated education and society for my entire life. I realized that as much as my friend liked and respected me that she considered my reserve to be a deficit. I thought of all the books about winning friends and influencing people and mastering the art of small talk, and I remembered all the times my mom and my brother talked about forcing themselves out of their comfort zones in order to do their jobs.

"Why?" I repeated, and the incredulity on my friend's face just made me want to mess with her a little. I gasped in mock horror. "You are prejudiced!" I accused her. "You think there's something wrong with being an introvert that needs to be fixed." I shook my head. "Why?" I asked again.

We left it at that; the end of our 35 minute lunch period was near, and our students were returning to class. It was never a serious conversation, but the implications stayed with me. In a world of increasing noise, do we really want to encourage all of our students to add to it?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Didn't She Almost Have it All

We were at a "girls only brown bag wine tasting" tonight at the home of one of our neighbors. There was 80's music playing all evening, and our memories of the songs threaded in and out of each conversation as the guests grouped and regrouped. Cutting Crew, Bon Jovi, Journey, Madonna, and Cindy Lauper were all remembered fondly.

Of course Whitney Houston was bound to come up and she did. "Look where she is now," someone said. "She's a mess."

"But I loved the song I Want to Dance With Somebody," somebody else added wistfully. There were nods of agreement, and then the conversation moved on.

Not for me, though. For a moment I conjured that younger Whitney: gorgeous, and with that voice! and all her energy and charisma and how really really great she was, and I hoped for a come back. She can totally do it! I thought. It's not too late.

Friday, February 10, 2012


So often teachers of subjects other than language arts report that one reason they don't require much writing is because they are unfamiliar and uncomfortable with some of the finer points of grammar and usage. We did a couple of quick little exercises in my Writing Across the Curriculum workshop today where the objective was to show that that type of incorrectness does not usually impede communication and also that those errors are usually the easiest thing to fix in a writing piece. One task the participants had to do was choose between "fewer" and "less" when the terms were applied to the word "people," as in There were fewer/less people at the park than there were at the movies.

The rule with "fewer" or "less" is countability-- you use "fewer" when you can count the individual items and "less" when you can't, like fewer pennies, less change. The tricky part of the above question is that "people" was not originally used as the plural of "person" (that would have been "persons"), so there was a time when you couldn't actually count the people in a room, and therefore "less people" was the correct usage.

Today that is not the case, people is the commonly accepted plural form of person. The topic certainly made for a lively discussion in our session today, though, and who do you think brought it up?

The math teachers, of course. Count on them!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Billable Hours

Last July I stood with pearly white cavity-free teeth and scheduled my next six-month checkup at the gleaming front desk of my dentist. It was only the second time I had been to the office and the only reason I was there at all was because my long-time dentist had retired. Oh he played it well-- sending postcards to all of his clients informing us that he was cutting back on his hours. I knew then that, seeing as how he was a single practitioner, it could only mean one thing: he was selling us to another practice.

Even so, I decided to go along and see how the new dentist was. My first visit was like time traveling-- the office, the equipment, and the staff seemed at least thirty years ahead of the old-fashioned approach I was used to, and nobody from the old practice was anywhere in sight. It wasn't great, and it wasn't terrible, but it was really really different, yet not so much to make me go out and find myself a new tooth guy.

The second visit was also fine. I found myself building a bit of a rapport with my new hygienist, and the efficiency of everything in this oh so 21st century practice was beginning to win me over. I liked the email reminders and the convenient online confirmation, and I could almost picture myself stopping at the Starbucks a few doors down every six months from now to infinity.

Until today. I awoke this morning with the leaden knowledge that I had slept poorly. The idea of busting out the door right after school to get my teeth cleaned, on top of everything else I needed to do today was overwhelming, and in an effort to prioritize, I resolved to reschedule. I called the office at lunch to politely explain the situation and get another date on the calendar. There was a pause, and then the receptionist told me that ordinarily it's a hundred dollar charge to cancel within four business days. They were waiving it for me this time, but I needed to make a note of the policy.

And I did make a note, right away.  

Find a new dentist.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

(Not) My Job

In the memoir unit I ask kids to choose a memorable event from their lives and think about how it shaped them, and that can be a challenging task for a sixth grader (or anyone, really). Of course, I don't expect perfection, and in the end I read several under-developed anecdotes about bike crashes, roller coasters, pranks, and beach mishaps. There are poignant tales as well, and usually one or two that I pass along to the counselor. Overall, this writing assignment gives me a lot of insight into my students, and for that it is priceless.

I thought about that tonight as I worked on a presentation I have been asked to make for my colleagues on our staff development day on Friday. The topic is writing across the curriculum, but the subtext is so much more. Middle school is where discipline-based departments begin, and so writing sometimes becomes a "language arts" thing. Part of my job on Friday will be to convince the other subject teachers otherwise.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Head Injuries, PANDAS, and Butt Cracks, Oh My

That was my day today. You'll forgive me for not writing more?

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Good Deed Unpunished

Today we had a rare frigid morning in this balmy El Nina winter of ours, and like I usually do on such frosty days, I started the cars and scraped the windshields. Our '01 Jeep Wrangler is a fun kind of buggy, loved by Heidi and the nephews, especially in top-down weather.

Of course it has a manual transmission to go with its rugged take-the-top-off attitude, and so the emergency brake was on this morning when I popped it in neutral to warm it up. When my scraping was done, I turned it off and took the keys inside so that Heidi would have them to lock up when she left.

Then, with a cheery good-bye and full confidence in my good partner status, I headed toward the station wagon with my back pack, lunch bag, and coffee cup. I was loading those items in their customary positions in the back seat when I heard an alarming crunch, and looked up to see the Jeep crashed into our neighbor's car next to me.

It was so confusing at first. Nobody was at the wheel of either vehicle, and yet there they were in a rear-end collision. The Jeep had been parked up the hill and across the way, so it wasn't too long before I realized what had happened, sprinted into the house for the keys, and pulled it back into its space.

This time I left it in gear when I climbed out to inspect the damage. Our neighbor's car had been running to defrost it, too, so I knew she would be out any moment. There was a melon-sized dent in her rear bumper, and a bit of a tell-tale dark blue smudge. I ran inside to tell Heidi, and we emerged from our house a minute later, just as our neighbor came from hers.

Wide-eyed and breathlessly I told the tale of the calamity, but she remained calm. "Oh give me the insurance info later," she said. "After all," she laughed, "I know where you live." We followed her around to the back of the cars to look at the damage, and I gasped. The whole dent had popped out! All that was left was a tiny smear of navy blue. Our neighbor shrugged. "I wouldn't have even known if you didn't tell me."

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Choosing Sides

I listened with half an ear as a couple of kids bickered good-naturedly at the end of class on Friday. As the bell rang, they came to me to settle their dispute. "Do you like the Patriots?" one asked.

I shrugged. "Nope."

"Are you American, or what?" he said indignantly.

"Yeah," I said."I'm American. So? The Giants were my dad's team. I'm rooting for them."

They laughed.

"We were talking about social studies," he explained, "We're having a debate and I'm Thomas Paine. Who do you like better? The Patriots or the Loyalists?"

"Tschoo! Patriots all the way!" I said. "I'm American aren't I? Who likes the Loyalists?"

"Me," said the second student, "because I'm King George."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I See

My glasses broke about six months ago. They were trifocals and I'm pretty sure the prescription needed updating, because I was getting headaches after wearing them sometimes. An inveterate procrastinator, I've been able to make do with only reading glasses since then, but I think it might be time to go in. I'm suffering from frame envy.

I've been noticing eye wear everywhere. This afternoon it was in the movies. We saw Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Gary Oldman plays 1970's era spy George Smiley in a tale that flashes back and forth over a period of several years. It can be confusing, too, except that he gets an eye exam early in the picture and chooses new frames. Of course I was all over that, and as a result? I could always tell the past and present from the glasses he was wearing.

For the record-- I liked his first frames better, but the next pair was really authentic to the time period.

Spoiler Alert: He gets yet another pair at the end of the movie. Do you think that might mean something symbolic?

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Million Little Pieces

My students are working on memoirs and their second drafts were due today. The following message was in my email inbox this morning.

We read J's story which is due today. There were a few sections with inappropriate content, we have discussed this with him and he will make necessary changes. He can stay after school today to complete or use time this weekend. Thank you for understanding.

Uh oh. The last I had seen of the piece was a little silly, but not too far out of bounds for a sixth grade boy. I talked to him first thing. "What's going on?" I asked.

"My parents are totally over-reacting," he sighed.

I asked to see the draft, and there were a few things that I knew I would suggest editing out. I replied to his mom at lunch.

The drafts that were due today were not intended to be in final form. I encourage the students to take creative risks in their writing, but I agree that J's piece was not appropriate for school as it was written. One of the objectives of the assignment is for students to choose a memorable event from their lives and to consider how it shaped them and what their actions and reactions in that situation reveal about them. When I talked to J about his story, he explained that he had only presented the perspective of his eight-year-old self. Today he worked on adding what he learned from the experience, what he thinks now, and making clear that he and the boy mentioned are still friends. He should continue working on it over the weekend.

He can also start a new piece on another topic if your family would prefer. Please contact me with any further questions.

A little later I found out that J the author had been taking liberties with the facts.

Thank you for your quick response to our concerns. The content of the story did not reflect the incident as it occurred or how J has felt when similar situations have occurred in the past. He is struggling a bit with his identity recently and I understand he would like others to see him with a different bravado. Thank you for providing the specifics of the assignment, I see he still needs to address the other points of the assignment as well.

It looks like J is going to be doing some revising this weekend.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Will Write for Donuts

We had 12 students attend our little writing club today. Their challenge was to write in second person, and they wrote some pretty good stuff. I like to think it was for more than the chocolate frosted chocolate donuts, but who cares if it was?

This was one of my favorites:

You grinned and laughed as they flew around, glowed and disappeared, on and off. You would grab them out of the air and hold them, staring at them in awe. You would always let your fireflies go. You didn’t want to hurt them, but letting them go would make you so sad. You were so little and so happy, then. This story will be our secret.

I remember you at every age and I know that one day you will be someone extremely important. There are so many people around who will help you on your journey. I am sorry that I am not going to be there to help you along the way.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Was that me who said "irregardless" at a meeting of English teachers?

Oh my.