Thursday, April 15, 2021

Ba Dump Bump

The Chat Snap prompt of the day today was Tell us about your favorite animal. Use some poetry!  For the most part, the young poets were happy to play along. A little rhyme, a haiku, some similes and metaphors, perhaps even a quick acrostic poem-- that's all I was hoping for, but as always, there were a few kids who were reluctant to participate. 

"What's going on?" I asked one student who still hadn't posted 10 minutes or so into the class. 

"I can't think of anything," he said flatly.

"Well, what's your favorite animal?" I responded.


"Oh! That's cool!" I told him. "Do you have an iguana?"

"No." he answered.

"Really?" I said. "Then do you wanna iguana?"

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Perchance to Dream

Sometimes I listen to a meditation or podcast as I'm falling asleep. Quiet voices and music replace any restless thoughts or residual anxiety left over from the day: they help me fall asleep and stay asleep. One of my favorites is The Memory Palace. Created and hosted by Nate DiMeo, the show is an anthology, briefly told and beautifully written, of little-known true stories, each packing an emotional or intellectual punch at the end. 

I always make sure to go back and listen to every episode when I am awake, but at night, I set a timer for no more than 10 minutes, and Di Meo's soothing voice and elegant rhetoric calms my turbulent mind. Last night, I forgot the timer, and I woke in darkness after dreaming of voting rights, revolutions, starlings, and swans; I had sleep-listened to ten episodes. I tapped pause, and drifted back to sleep, which might have been dreamless or not.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Cat-astrophe Avoided

My phone chimed right before the class change this morning. I was a little anxious when I saw it was a message from our neighbor across the way, my imagination fabricating all sorts of local disasters that he might be reaching out to report. Fallen tree? Burst pipe? Sink hole? Break-in? Too much mail?

I anxiously tapped in my passcode and opened the app.

I wanted to tell you guys that I keep seeing your two cats in the window when I practice the piano. I love them!

Monday, April 12, 2021


As part of our fiction unit, the young writers in our classes were asked to dedicate their children's stories to someone who helped or inspired them. The addition to their books was purely optional, but we wanted them to realize that although writing can be hard and lonely, publishing is a chance to celebrate one's accomplishments with pride and gratitude.

Most of the dedications were sweet and predictable-- honoring parents, siblings, and other family members. A few were to teachers past and present, a couple were to pets, and one was to a duckling. Some were super snarky: 

I dedicate this book to absolutely no one! 

I dedicate this book to ME ME ME!

And the best one, in my opinion, just happens to fall into that category. It was to me (or not to me, as the case may be).

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Making the Grades

Despite the fact that I know better, the final project of the third quarter stretched right up until the last day of the term for most of my sixth graders. That left 80 or so children's stories for me to assess and comment on over the weekend, so that my grades will be finished on time. In my own defense, I want to say that concurrent learning played a role-- I feel like I earned my paycheck twice over just getting some writing submitted from every student, virtual and in-person.

I am lucky to have a co-teacher in one of my sections who is willing to tackle some of the grading, but at 6 PM on Sunday evening, I'm not even halfway done. It's true that there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to applying a complicated 8-point 8-section rubric to a piece of writing in a way that is fair and gives constructive feedback to the young writers. As such, my pace has quickened a bit as the task has progressed. 

I'm not worried that I won't finish; I'm just sad that I have to.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The In-Between

The days I love most are the ones where we can throw our windows open and let the fresh air in, free from the HVAC-- no dry forced-air heat or refrigeration. Oh, don't get me wrong: I appreciate a warm and cozy house in winter, and the cool relief that air conditioning offers from those blazing humid days of summer is irreplaceable.


A cool cross breeze and the sound of the birds?

That's mighty nice.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Falling Action

News today that Prince Philip has died. I just saw him last night on The Crown, forcing his son, Prince Charles, to marry a woman he didn't love. Well, we all know how that story ended. 

The same can be said about most of the intriguing dramas that television show presents: it's all a matter of history, and many of the main players are gone. In addition to Princess Di and Lord Mountbatten, Princess Margaret, the Queen Mum, Margaret Thatcher and her husband Dennis, and a whole host of minor characters have all gone to their reward in real life. I suppose the fact that the Queen and Phillip have lived until now, both in their 90s, she having reigned for nearly 70 years, made the narrative a bit more compelling, and certainly more remarkable. 

And although it's not surprising for a man of 99 to pass away, one does feel a little sadness about knowing how that particular story ends.