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.
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.
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!
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.
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.