Top Ten Reasons to Participate in SOL

I am participating in #SOL21. Thanks for creating this space to write, share, and grow!

1. You’ll become a better writer. Blogging will not force you to become a better writer, it’ll just happen as you do it. Slice of Life helps you place writing on your daily schedule – it helps you establish a routine. And becoming a better writer holds important benefits for the rest of your life—whether you are creating a book, a presentation, a résumé, an ad, or an anniversary card for your spouse.

2. You’ll become a better thinker. Because the process of writing includes recording thoughts on paper, the blogging process encourages you to stop and think deeper. You will delve deeper into the matters of your life and the worldview that shapes them.

3. You’ll live a more intentional life. Once you start writing about your life and the thoughts that shape it, you’ll begin thinking more intentionally about who you are, who you are becoming, and whether you like what you see or not. And that just may be reason enough to get started.

4. You’ll develop an eye for meaningful things. By necessity, blogging requires a filter. It’s simply not possible to write about every event, every thought, and every happening in your life. Instead, blogging is a never-ending process of choosing to articulate the most meaningful events and the most important thoughts. This process of choice helps you develop an eye for meaningful things.

5. It’ll lead to healthier life habits. Blogging requires time, devotion, commitment, and discipline — all good things to embrace — they will help you get the most out of your days and life.

6. You’ll meet new people. In a writing community such as Slice of Life on twowritingteachers, participants will legitimately form relationships that seek to serve one another. The blogging community is friendly, encouraging, and genuinely cheering for you to succeed—the only thing missing is you.

7. You’ll inspire others. Blogging not only changes your life, it also changes the life of the reader. And because blogs are free for the audience and open to the public, on many levels, it is an act of giving. It is a selfless act of service to invest your time, energy, and worldview into a piece of writing and then offer it free to anybody who wants to read it. Others will find inspiration in your writing… and that’s a wonderful feeling.

8. You’ll become more well-rounded in your mindset. After all, blogging is an exercise in give-and-take. One of the greatest differences between blogging and traditional publishing is the opportunity for readers to offer input. As the blog’s writer, you introduce a topic that you feel is significant and meaningful. You take time to lay out a subject in the minds of your readers and offer your thoughts on the topic. Then, the readers get to respond. Often times, their responses in the comment section challenge us to take a new, fresh look at the very topic we thought was so important in the first place. So try to respond to as many bloggers as possible each day.

9. You’ll become more confident. Blogging will help you discover more confidence in your life. You will quickly realize that you do live an important life with a unique view and have something to offer others.

10. You’ll find a platform to recommend. We all love to recommend something we have found enjoyable or beneficial—whether it be a nice restaurant, a good book, or a new outlook on life. The fullness of joy is not experienced until we have shared that joy with others. A blog provides an opportunity to do that very thing. It provides a platform to share the joy we have experienced and recommend good things we have discovered to others.

Hanging out with Albert, thinking about my next blog post.

February Snow

 February snow

Falls in flat flakes,

Lacy angels

From a white sky.

 Birds gather,

Waiting in

Trees that wear

Cold white coats,

Dreaming wistfully

of Spring and leaves.

The feeder is a busy café,

Dark starlings and

Red-winged blackbirds

Taking a spot at the counter…

And still, the snow falls.

For the Love of a Dog

I am participating in #SOL21 and am grateful to twowritingteachers for this space to write, read, and grow. Thank you!

I am always surprised that I continue to learn more about my husband.  Although we’ve only been married for close to eight years now, we’ve known each other for over twenty-five years since we both spent our teaching careers in Upper Moreland School District. Ralph taught computer literacy to third through fifth graders and I was a writing extension teacher, then literacy coach and reading specialist.

Ralph has always been a cat lover, and I always have had a dog. When we finally chose one home to live in, our family grew bigger to include three Welsh Corgis – Memphis, Merri, and Rhonda. About three years ago we purchased a King Arthur after losing Memphis. As an eight-month old, he was full of energy and tried to get the old girls to play with him. They were his tribe. Rhonda delighted in chasing him out of the kitchen at feeding time, and even when Artie grew much bigger than her, he still played the game. He adored Rhonda and her fierceness.

We are enjoying the snow storm two years ago. Arthur is in front, Rhonda is in pink, and Merri is in blue.

Rhonda just shy of sixteen, came to us when she was four. I bought Merrill when I lost Mimi because I did not want Memphis to be alone while I was away from seven to four each day.  But I did not want to start with a puppy again, so I searched for a Welsh Corgi who was housebroken and at least one year old. I found Merrill – fourteen months and perfect except for the fact that I had to let the breeder take her to dog shows every once in awhile so Merrill could earn her championship. I also agreed to a litter of puppies. I must have been out of my mind! I agreed to this because Carol, the dog breeder, was also a friend; and truthfully, I was already in love with Merri. Carol suggested that when I brought Merrill back to her for showing purposes, that I take her mother Rhonda as a substitute.

And so I did, and when Merri was finished showing and had her litter of seven puppies, I had grown too attached to Rhonda to give her up, and so I bought her, too. As I look back, I am sure this was Carol’s plan! Ten years later, Rhonda began to have some issues. Two cancerous tumors that had to be removed and then, another tumor that began to grow and grow. My vet wisely recommended not to remove it because of Rhonda’s age and because of its location. On top of that, she was struggling to flip her left leg under her when she walked. She often dragged it along or inside the house, sat and pulled her entire back end with the help of her powerful front legs and sheer determination.

When we visited the vet in December, I asked Jon if it was time to put her down. I told him about her struggle to walk and secretly prayed for a miracle. I was not ready to let go. But, at the same time, I wanted to be fair to Rhonda. Jon’s reply was heartwarming. “I’ve been around animals long enough to know when their eyes say they have had it.” Rhonda’s eyes tell me she still wants to be here.”  Inside of me, I cheered!

Several days later, Jon called to say Rhonda’s problems were neurological and suggested we purchase a cart for her. “She has the disposition to handle it,” he said. My husband started to research immediately. A day later he announced he had ordered a cart for Rhonda and that it should arrive soon. When it appeared, Ralph went to work on putting together Rhonda’s “Tesla.”  Ralph loves Teslas, and we joked that Rhonda’s cart was as close as we were ever going to get to owning one.

Rhonda did take to the cart easily.  After several adjustments, Rhonda could walk outside with her back legs supported by the cart’s structure. We took a walk down the sidewalk with our other Corgis on leashes. They took no notice of the cart. I was so happy!  Rhonda was going to get the exercise she needed and we would get to keep her for a little longer. Rhonda was amazing!

Clouds in My Life

I’ve never thought about how my life is like a cloud, but the immediate response I have is that it’s always changing. Sometimes, it’s so full of activity, like a puffy cumulus cloud. And sometimes, it’s thin and feels too stretched out – too taut.

There are days when my cloud is streaked with gray and then gloom descends – stopping me from being productive at all. And there are days when my cloud is full of lightning bolts and threatens a storm. But like a sudden summer thunderstorm, it is often brief, making way for a sunny day.

And then there are times when the wind carries my cloud away along with all the other clouds in the sky. On these days, I almost feel myself disappearing. I reach out, but can find no anchor to keep myself from drifting away.

My life is like a cloud – beautiful, lonely, full of promise. I drift, float, glide, wander on a field of blue – hoping to catch a glimpse of what I might miss if my feet were firmly planted on the ground.

Summer Forecast 2020

I am participating in #SOL Tuesdays.

Thanks to twowritingteachers for providing this space to share!Slice of Life2

Ready for August?
Warmer than average this summer,
August continues the trend.
With rainy periods everywhere today,
Isaias travels along the East coast,
A good day for staying indoors to read.

Making landfall as a hurricane,
Power outages and widespread flooding
With whipping winds with strong storm surges.
Impacting states all the way up to Maine.
Slamming the coasts and possible tornados,
Racing fast up to the north as a tropical storm.

If you like your summers nice and hot,
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac,
You’re all set (my husband will be happy)!
Summer temperatures hotter than normal,
Hottest periods in mid-June,
Mid- to late July, and early August.

Sizzle and drizzle?
Scorching to wicked hot?
Muggy and buggy?
Dampness to downpours?
Tend to those veggie and flower gardens
And enjoy it while it lasts.

20200512_084148

Antithesis

Slice of Life2

By Lynne R. Dorfman

I am participating in #SOL Tuesdays. Thanks to twowritingteachers for providing this space. This poem was written from a mentor text, Swift Things Are Beautiful by Elizabeth Coatsworth, a favorite poem of mine.

Old things are comfortable:
faded blue jeans
with holes in both pockets
and tears in the knees.
The smile that appears on my grandmother’s face
or the wrinkly frown when I’ve fallen from grace.

Old things are beautiful:
the clock in its tower
that tolls oh so sweetly
the change in the hour.
The leathery look of my grandfather’s hands
and beaches covered with timeless white sands.

Old things are wondrous:
the freckle-faced night
dressed up in diamonds
to give Earth its light.
The limbs of the apple tree dripping with fruits,
Its sturdy broad trunk and its gnarled strong roots.

New things are challenging:
the skier’s big thrill
when he steps from the lift
and attacks his first hill.
The child that bikes her two-wheeler with pride
Or a youngster who’s taking his first pony ride.

New things are frightening:
A groom turning blue
as he stands with his bride
and whispers, “I do!”
The writer’s attempt to fill virgin page,
A parent’s first try to be patient and sage.

New things are happening:
Man walks in space,
Upheaval in cities,
Freedom’s new case.
Jets that propel through the barrier of sound,
Organs transplanted, vaccines to be found.

Old things are dying:
the blazing hot sun
that burns up its life
and will one day be done.
New things are beautiful:
Freedom’s seeds that will flower
and reach for the heavens with God’s given power.

 

 

 

Celebrating Cycles: Old and New

By Lynne Dorfman

My mentor text for this poem is Swift Things Are Beautiful by Elizabeth Coatsworth. It has been a long-time favorite of mine.

 

Old is the silver of Grandmother’s hair,

New is the gold of child rosy and fair.

Old is the universe gyrating ‘round,

New are the worlds that are yet to be found.

Old is the dinosaur vanished from Earth,

New is the human who must prove her worth.

 

Old is the river, the song of the South,

Rolling along from its source to its mouth.

New are the skyscrapers sweeping the skies,

Buzzing with life in their honey-combed hives.

Old is the Bible whose prophecies unfold,

New are the stories that have not yet been told.

 

Old is the man who must walk with a cane,

Old is the downfall of sweet-smelling rain.

Old is the rose-fingered shimmering dawn,

The tides of the oceans, the days that are gone.

The world of Atlantis obscured by the sea,

Old is the yearning for all to be free.

 

New is the love for the life that we live,

New is each time that we take or we give.

New are the thoughts envisioned by minds,

Our hopes and our dreams, discoveries, and finds.

From Old, New is born – but before very long,

New will be Old and the cycle goes on.

 

Poetry to Promote Social Justice

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
                       Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise” from And Still I Rise: A book of Poems. (1996) Random House, Inc.

Language has long been used throughout the ages as a vehicle to hold strong to hope and strive for justice through the spoken and written word. With incredible power to create new meaning for people, poetry can positively address social justice issues in our schools. Indeed, poetry reflects the values and beliefs that permeate our culture.

Poetry is a great equalizer, offering myriad opportunities for students in grades K-12  to speak about their world through speaking, reading, and writing. Poetry represents many perspectives, disrupting the mundane and the “this-is-the-way-it-has-always-been way of thinking, focusing on developing a language of hope and of change.

In the spirit of using poetry as a vehicle to ask questions and get people thinking, I used a poem by D, H. Lawrence titled The White Horse as my inspiration and mentor text to write this poem.

The Sounds of Social Justice

What sound does social justice make?

A fierce wind rolling over the tall grasses of the plains
The shhush-whish of ocean waves pulling us into a rhythm that
cannot be denied
Each desert evening that brings a constant change
The sounds of dust-patterned glass cracked by years of indifference

Thunders of an avalanche cascading down an unnamed mountain
The creak of boots in a blue night frosted with snow and moonlight
Scattering flaps of birds’ wings whose shadows paint the
canyon walls
The almost imperceptible burn of the ever-changing sunlight

The steady march of footsteps on roads that lead to Washington, D.C.
Words gently but firmly speaking a simple truth of a true heart
Teardrops splash pavements, prayers whispered softly, hands
clasped in unison

Social justice – humanity connecting, raising awareness, changing the world

 

 

Creating a Story in a Bag

Slice of Life2I am participating in #SOL Tuesdays.

Story in a Bag is an engaging way to help students write a narrative by embedding a series of objects into their story in a way that makes good sense. This activity helps students build writing fluency, and at the same time, it helps them learn to problem solve on the spot!  As items are removed from the bag, the writers must somehow weave them seamlessly into the story. At times, this can be very challenging!

To model Story in a Bag, the teacher fills a paper bag with 5-8 random objects. To make this activity interesting, the objects should be diverse and unrelated to each other. Go for a combination of the unusual and the mundane.  These items are used to help bring the story to life. I usually start with items that are themed around a subgenre of fiction such as mystery, adventure, fantasy, or science fiction. It is great to pair your Story in a Bag with a subgenre you have just explored in reading or writing workshop. An adventure story bag could include a journal, a map, a picture of a secret passageway, a card that reads “DANGER!”, a shovel, and a tiny box or chest. I always write a lead sentence on the board to get everybody writing. You could use “It was a dark and stormy night!” or “It was very early for our doorbell to ring, and when I opened the door – no one was there.”  Students can choose to revise their lead sentence after the story is completed or they can keep the original.

When I model, I usually create the story through oral rehearsal since writing it may take too much time. As I pull items from the bag, I lay the item on a large table where all the students can see them. This helps writers catch up if they are a little behind since they will always have a visual representation of the order of the items in plain view.  Later, I may write the story as I remember telling it. It is important to note that you could choose to record yourself on an audio device such as  RecForge Pro, an app of choice for many that includes cloud integration, multiple formats, editing, adjustable quality levels, playback speed adjustments, and more. For teachers, audio recording logistics are simple and easy to adapt with an iPad or any device with a recording app. You and/or your students can upload the recording to a Google Drive folder, email the file to students or to the teacher, or save it on the course management system.

Sometimes, you can scaffold a story in the bag by placing words or phrases on sentence strips and pulling them from your bag in a meaningful order. For example, consider the following list:

Sammy’s kitten kitten 2

The park

A big dog  Big dog story in bag

A tall tree tall tree story in a bag

Too frightened to meow

The fire department

A long ladder

A bowl of milk

You could also include some props or create them such as this sign:

Hayward: Greenwood Park reopened after $2.38 million facelift – East Bay  Times

It is fun to see what everyone comes up with and how they find a way to incorporate all the objects and end their individual story. After you model one or two Story in a Bag sessions, encourage your students to create their own Story in a Bag individually or with a partner to lead the writing session. With my fourth graders, we saved this activity for the last Friday of each month. The class created and posted a sign-up sheet, and we often had a partnership or a group of three collaborating to create their bag of items. Enjoy!

Read This Summer: Some First Steps Toward Civic Responsibility to Help Us Find Our Voice – But Don’t Stop Here!

Educators around our country and all over the world want to do their part to make the world a better place for their students, families, and communities. Some have already participated in protests to make their voices heard. You may feel unsure and not be ready to speak out or even have conversations about racial equity and social justice, but a reading list this summer may help you find your voice.

This list will help you quickly access book choices for you to grow personally and professionally, including some YA literature and a few picture books. Perhaps form a book club or partner with a colleague so you can have a discussion and reflect on what you are thinking and feeling. Of course, this list is not complete. There are lots of places to go to find great book lists.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/158-resources-understanding-systemic-racism-america-180975029/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20200604-daily-responsive&spMailingID=42660911&spUserID=MTAyMzg5NTM3MDkyOQS2&spJobID=1780361169&spReportId=MTc4MDM2MTE2OQS2

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/twelve-books-to-help-children-understand-race-antiracism-and-protest-180975067/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20200611-daily-responsive&spMailingID=42712616&spUserID=MTAyMzg5NTM3MDkyOQS2&spJobID=1780986316&spReportId=MTc4MDk4NjMxNgS2

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/158-resources-understanding-systemic-racism-america-180975029/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20200604-daily-responsive&spMailingID=42660911&spUserID=MTAyMzg5NTM3MDkyOQS2&spJobID=1780361169&spReportId=MTc4MDM2MTE2OQS2

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/twelve-books-to-help-children-understand-race-antiracism-and-protest-180975067/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20200611-daily-responsive&spMailingID=42712616&spUserID=MTAyMzg5NTM3MDkyOQS2&spJobID=1780986316&spReportId=MTc4MDk4NjMxNgS2

https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race

After you’ve done some reading, don’t forget to send a note to your state and federal representatives and ask them what they plan to do to create a safer, more just America for ALL our students. Use children’s literature as a concrete and powerful way to talk to children about race. Books can be a great tool for sparking discussion with your students and/or your own children and grandchildren. Let’s raise anti-racists. Our students and children will have questions for us. They’ll look to us to imagine the possibilities for a better world. They’ll need our support. Can we afford to let them down?

Books, Articles, and Websites for Summer Reading with Anti-Bias and Racial Justice Themes

Recommended Resources

A list of book recommendations to get started

But please remember, don’t stop here. Share the books that have helped you grow, change, and find your voice. When considering where to buy books, you may be interested in examining this list put together by Lithub of black-owned independent bookstores that offer ordering/shipping options. Let’s support these businesses as a next step. In Pennsylvania, black-owned book stores at https://aalbc.com/bookstores/index.php?statename=Pennsylvania  and support black authors who are writing with a perspective of the lived through experience by buying their books.

Reading and talking about what you’ve read is only a first step. We’ve got to do more. We’ve got to act to dismantle power systems that stand in the way of justice for ALL, humanity, and happiness for all American citizens and all who come to this country looking for a better life for their family.  Whether these systems exist at work, at our state and federal government levels, in our education systems, we must work to dismantle systems that support inequalities and racial injustice. We’ve got to do better!