#CelebrateLu: Summer – a new house and a new routine

Exciting👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻A wonderful new blo to follow. It will be filled with adventures and reflections🍷Yay!!!!

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#clmooc Make #1 Unmake an Introduction


Love this!!!!

Originally posted on Unorthodox but Effective:

Playing and learning about connected learning this summer. I got a late start, but here is my first “make”.


I find it interesting that my word for 2015 was “identity” and I’ve had a number of opportunities to find my own–some ways more pleasant than others. Becoming is a complicated process.

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Who Benefits from Standardized Testing? Not Students.


Right to the piint

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

A reader posted this comment about the debate over testing:


The narrative of students as “product” does none of us activists any good, because truly it’s a reformer red herring–whether offensive or not–and it seems to me we should ditch it fast. Children are not the “products” in reformers efforts to change education. Children are the consumers. Reformers aren’t working to “improve” children, their brains, or their prospects. They’re working to SELL them stuff. If reformers cared about the quality of learning American children receive, standardized testing would be the last thing they’d subject them to, because it’s the last thing they subject their own children to. They know it’s a colossal waste of their own kids’ valuable learning time and it does nothing to help them or their teachers.

Reformers do care about whether–actually how many–children will form their latest target audience in the Race to the Top…

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Reaching for Creativity


Thanks Margaret for this rich slice about process and teaching design

Originally posted on Reflections on the Teche:

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge. Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Poetry forms the quality of light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change.
–Audre Lord

PHOSPHORESCENCE. Now there’s a word to lift your hat to… to find that phosphorescence, that light within, that’s the genius behind poetry.
― Emily Dickinson

oak light

My poetry light to my OLW:

Rise to the novelty
Eager for the rising
Arms stretched overhead
Calling for strength
Happy to hold the sunlight.

–Margaret Simon

If you missed DigiLit Sunday, I posted an Emaze presentation you can use with your students to make their own One Little Word resolutions. I presented this on Monday, and my students began working on their word webs and Canva designs. I wanted to share a few with you today.

one special word copy

Julie Johnson wrote about the importance of design. She wrote, “I think some would ask if it’s important to…

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A Gift a Day: December’s Photo-a-Day Challenge


Love this! I need the inspiration 😍

Originally posted on Thinking Through My Lens:

While it often seems that December is all about shopping and buying, the spirit of the winter holidays is about giving.  I often think about photography as a gift to myself…it allows me to explore, to see the world anew, to get outside and interact with nature, time for reflection and relaxation, and more.  And I can also see that each image could also be a gift to others, an opportunity to enjoy a view through my lens.

There are so many gifts that are intangible, you simply can’t go to the store to buy them.  And yet, through a photograph you can get a glimpse of the possibilities.  I can think of many who would appreciate the gift of abundance.  I couldn’t resist this shot of the shelves at the Filippi’s Pizza Restaurant in Little Italy today.

abundanceAnd I know that I appreciated this gift of creativity from an…

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A Year of “Slice of Life” in the classroom.

A Year of "Slice of Life" in the classroom..

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Taking Action in 2014: January’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

Taking Action in 2014: January’s Photo-a-Day Challenge.

I’m in :)

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Last Day of Our First Week: SI 2013

I am back in my town, up early, sitting with my brother Jeff ,drinking my first cup of coffee.  We are both early risers still but  he has to have CNBC on TV to catch up on the latest stock news.  I need my gang on MSNBC.  I used to switch the channel when he wasn’t looking but he keeps reminding me that he’s the king of his kingdom and  over time I gave up. Jeff dictates in his kitchen as he listens up to stock news and reads the local newspapers, multitasking with ease.  I am quiet, thinking about our upcoming final day  for the week.

It’s good to be back home with my family.  I am far removed from my own life in the town when I was teaching at our local high school.  I’ve been a visitor since I moved away in 1986.   Of course, I carry my history with me, but in real time we are feeling the loss of my mom, especially the morning after her birthday and my dad living just on the parallel street.

Christine and I have planned an interesting day with lots of structured writing time.  We have been revisiting the calendar often, moving things around.  We keep the updates on our blog.  We have been using that blog all week and pushing the SI to do so as well.  We are saving lots of paper and getting the group into the habit of clicking to the blog often to find the SI resources.

I leave later than usual, stopping by to see my dad.  On the way out I make sure I can be in and out of the  Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot for an extra large coffee for car ride sipping. I am met with a smile, a familiar smile.  We know each other.  My server is Rosa, Rosa Vega.  I see her back in my English classroom in room 101, the room at the end of the hallway. She is small as a grown up. I remember her smaller as a 7th grader,  in a wild class with lots of loud boys  and even though she was tiny,  I remember she was unintimidated by characters like Odell Whitaker, who   took her very seriously.  How can I remember that?

On my ride over the mountain, even with a bit of rain,  by the time I get to the amazing panoramic spot where you can view the valley, the sun was burning away the mist.  I didn’t stop for the picture.  Yes, I know, STUPID! I had the time and there’s no going back.

So I arrive at our SI room and I’m alone in the cool ac, but not for long. Jennie and Rebecca are right behind me and they remember that we have to reorganize the room, grouping the desks in groups.  I make sure we are set with the classroom computer and I open our blog for the morning writing into the day and our rituals that are getting to be routine, we hope.DSC_0107

A happy accident in scheduling has allowed us to offer the group blocks of writing time that some of our cohort may never have experienced- extended writing: writing into the day for 15 minutes, another  30 minute block for later in the morning to revisit previous starts and  more time after that…


In between the writing Jennie offers a workshop in collaborative digital storytelling, working with clay to create our own characters and as much as I turned away from drawing with Rebecca, I embrace the colored clay, create my Molly, work with my group to create a story and then  move around the room, checking out the work of the  other groups.  I think our group rocks the house even though Christine used her camera to offer photos for a digital start.

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For SPECIAL THURSDAY we had everyone bring something for a pot luck lunch and even though we kept them working, yes it was wonderful to enjoy a communal lunch. I wonder, did anyone notice I didn’t get to bring anything?  I owe you all!

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The afternoon was for making everyone comfortable on our SI blog and for each of our group to play with their own blogs. It was challenging, but Christine took the lead with clarity and sensitivity to the nervous techies.

Then there was one more slot for me to share my work with digital storytelling and I used an old piece I created for my dad.  I shared it  to allow the group to consider how they might take up the challenge of writing a digital story and locating images that might not work directly with the text.  As I worked through the past- when my parents were first together, I teared up. Some members of the group did as well.

And then Author’s Chair!DSC_0148 DSC_0153 DSC_0155

At some point in my chat I realized we were all feeling the need to get out of our room, ending the day.  They only thing they had left to do was write us an reflection on this week’s work and suggestions for the future.  Silence once again.  I was feeling good, really good all the way to Tuvia.

Categories: Hudson Valley Writing Project, SI 2013 | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Another Full July Day




I’m remembering the heat of July at SUNY’s Old Main building before central air and renovation: the obstacles to our comfort.  But now, in the luxury of the remodel, I am in heaven.  I arrive early enough to select my parking spot in the front of the building or in back.  I walk to the elevator and it is waiting to lift me up to the 2nd floor. Just me and my array of bags, of course.

And I arrive and make my way to the last room in the maze of hallways.  We are just before the bathrooms.  In the old days I had to pick my personal bathroom breaks selectively, after all the closest bathroom to our 3rd floor classrooms was back down on the second floor, way down on the second floor.  I luxuriate in the modern version of Old Main!

It’s early and quiet and the soft hum of the cool AC air keeps me awake.  The table has been laid for today’s breakfast by Jennie and the group is still following Christine’s healthy modeling. I wonder if today I will actually eat the lunch I put together :)

Camille steps up with an intriguing prompt moving us to write about difficult events in our lives and many  race to share in Christine’s elegant author’s chair.. It’s a great start!

Jackie logs with a Wordle, Heather has her TIW reflection and Sarah, her photos and everyone is comfortably already on the blog.


Rebecca steps up confidently with her TIW focused on the study of illustration and text inspired by mentor Katie Wood Ray.  I find that this Si I am engaged, anchored in the TIWs, fully present comfortable. I find myself though, hating the drawing section of the work.  I am remembering my own inadequacy when it comes to art.  Yes, I have artist friends but me, I am an appreciator.  I am impressed with Rebecca’s movement to the groups, engaging with each of us, supporting us, asking questions, mentoring.  She am visualizing her with her 2nd graders.

We move through her workshop, examining her student work, sharing our observations.  She is grateful for our time and effort.   I am thinking deeply about what happened to me in elementary art.

We set up the Writing Groups strand and send the groups off for some writing and sharing.  Christine and I spend time focusing on playing with Google’s We Videos as our platform for teaching the SI participants about digital stories.  It has gotten easier since the last time I opened it when I was working with Jack two years ago.  Much better than Photo Story 3.  Not iMovie, but we have lots of Mac users who are interested in taking on iMovie, so we can work on both platforms.

Maybe we provided too much time for the first writing group, hoping that they would all break and write, but a break is good.  Everyone returns from lunch with more of our SI life under their belts and time to prepare for Odell’s Community Reading session.  It’s a good piece but I let the conversation go a bit, inspired by the text to write about my own writing life and the first adult story I wrote about my  torments as a kid in my 5th grade classroom with Mary Otens.  Where is that piece?  Time for a rewrite?

We linger a bit with the team but we are exhausted and I am anxious to get in my car and ride over the mountain to Ellenville for dinner with my dad and time with my brother and s-i-l on July 10, my mom’s birthday.

The ride is breath-taking and I take it slower than usual. Just before I hit town, I am passing the cemetery.  I double back, ride my car up through the open gate and stop at my mom’s spot.  I am alone, surrounded by the Jewish dead of our town.  Of course, it’s me, and I race back to the car for my camera. It’s muggy still but peaceful.  I walk among the tombstones, recognizing the names of the dead.  I recall each one vividly.

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I sit with my mom and I am remembering my first theater experience with Our Town.  I was in the 7th grade and that year Our Town was the senior play.  The boy/man who played George was a guy named Marvin who I watched (not stalked) from a far, my crush of sorts.  I was so tiny and he was a school star.  Here in the play, as the lead, I let the fantasy engulf me. Until we moved from the romance of dating to marriage and then… death? really?

The grave yard scenes hit me hard as a 7th grader and I never forgot that first experience with Wilder.  One of my favorite plays even now.  I started to consider life and death then.  As I sat with my mom, I thought about that first experience with Our Town.

It was good to leave for life.  My dad was waiting and I would not be sharing this experience with him.  In the early months after my mom’s death he came to visit her every day but since the unveiling of the stone he would break down when he visited and finally decided it was too much for him.  The stone seemed to make her death more real.

We went out to dinner and it was good to be with him.

Another rich day for me.


Categories: Hudson Valley Writing Project, SI 2013 | Tags: , | 9 Comments

Day 2? Really? Slice of Life at the SI

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Another smooth morning after a night of sleep.  Today Tara was joining me for my rides up and back and for a day as my guest at the SI.  Day 2 was our only shot at the perfect opportunity for her to experience the HVWP’s Summer Institute and maybe it was better that we are still fluid, not quite yet a bonded community of learning women.  Tara felt comfortable and the group was welcoming. As I took the morning prompt, sharing our lives as Slicers with Two Writing Teachers on a Slice of Life Tuesday, Tara was the first one up with a posted Slice and it was perfect and easy to click right to her Slice and have her read it to the group. I knew Tara wouldn’t flinch. Perfect start and then a solid writing for 15 minutes now that I’ve traded in my bells for my guitar timer sounds of mystic river. I can write too, without distraction.  I did.

I liked it when Christine suggested we all shared something… all the voices, sharing.  I loved that!

And then we moved through the rituals- my pictures, Odell’s log, Christine’s TIW reflections and even with computer issues, now that everyone comes with a laptop and can easily access the web, we are free!  Heather was smooth with her TIW and I thought about my own relationship to science, wondering a lot about how real scientists feel about the way science is taught in most high school classrooms.  I thought about how Janine has been incorporating writing into her science.  I remembered Alan Alda’s work on stage and in the real world.  My mind was racing and I was engaged and relaxed. Two days and I’m still relaxed.

We took a break. Gathered the group downstairs for a full photo and then back up for TIW groups.  Each new opening seems to be moving smoothly. I loved our conversations about the TIWs in my group.

It was a love day for me.  Well, I didn’t love the kale lunch, or eating outside in the heat or that stale sweet potato muffin.  But I loved the company and that’s more important.  I have my lovely lunch back in the room.

Back in the room, Mary appeared to get us engaged in our writing museum.  I remembered grabbing up books, a journal before I left for the SI on day one. I had a good bunch but for the first time I took the time to think through the time line I created and I was annoyed I didn’t have other things.  Really I had enough, but that writing experience was more for me.

I loved setting up next to Tara who probably would have liked to have brought more but it was so good that I remembered to send her the assignment so she could participate fully in the day.  I hope it’s not too late to join the NWP for her at Rutgers.  Do they still exist?

I was tired as we finished our small group debrief.  I wanted to watch Jennie’s digital story but I had a trip to make and then another beyond.  Too much ahead of me and Tara was patiently waiting.

So I am home and almost finished with this reflection of Day 2.  It’s good, really good.  So glad I came back after a two-year break.

More coming my way tomorrow.  Shorter ride home to Ellenville.

Categories: Hudson Valley Writing Project, SI 2013 | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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