Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation Every Weekend

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

I am so glad we can sit together and chat today. Thanks for joining me. What would you like to talk about today? What is the most important thing on your mind?

I am treating myself with a pumpkin spice latte today! I am going to celebrate the season with my beverage. What would you like today?

Have you signed up for my newsletter yet? If you like the Weekend Coffee Share you will love the newsletter.

If we were having coffee, I would ask you if you have ever read Turn of the Screw? This novella has come up several times over the last week for me. Nina Lacour used it as an inspiration for her wonderful book Watch Over Me. I downloaded it on a reader on my phone and started it last night.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have been participating in OCTPOWRIMO and writing poetry all week. It has been a nice change from my regular writing routine.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I did not walk every day this week. At school, we had to stay late both Tuesday and Thursday to do virtual parent conferences. I missed the feeling and the routine of the walks. The weather is quite windy this weekend so I have to bundle up! Winter is coming.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am excited how the 100 writing prompt project is moving along. The responses to the prompts are good and everyone is making them their own. You can be part of the fun! Sign up at my Patreon here.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you Nina Lacour was on the Marginally Podcast. It was a great interview. She also was on First Draft with Sarah Enni which was an amazing conversation to listen to as well.

If we were having coffee, I would ask you, “Do you know I have a podcast?” A close friend of mine has jokingly accused me of hiding it so here is the link!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I adore Ray Bradbury and his influence. So many of his quotes have had an impact on my writing life. I came across a new one.

Write a thousand words a day and in three years you will be a writer.

Ray Bradbury

My friend Amy has convinced me to do the million words in a year challenge. We are starting November 1. It is more than 1,000 words a day but doable. I am excited that I am taking on challenges that have expanded past the 30 challenge boundary I usually participate in.

Do you need a warm up on your drink? Ice water perhaps?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I heard an exercise taken from screenwriting called “List of 20”. When you need anything for your story, make a list of 20. If your characters need to get out a situation make a list of 20 ways they can get out it. Your brain will make you write down the obvious ones first. After you get past number 10 then you may get to something more unique.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my October workshop for my Patreon is impactful! I made it a self guided recording this month because the exercises are more personal. One participant, Jenna, said: The October Workshop was SO good! Thank you for sharing so many incredible insights and exercises. I’ve been feeling a little low and fuzzy-headed lately, and this workshop was really a breath of fresh air. You can have access to this workshop and the past ones by clicking here.

What are you most excited about from your week? I would love to hear in the comments. How are you getting ready for Halloween – if you do anything?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I ordered whiskey glasses that are created for Old Fashioneds because I saw this drink recipe. I cannot wait to make it!

Thank you for joining me today! Thanks to https://eclecticali.wordpress.com/ for being the host of this amazing challenge every weekend!

Short Story Show and Tell

A Look at Craft Focusing on One Short Story

I have a list of stories I return to that I use as models for writing. One I love is Amber Spark’s Thirteen Ways to Destroy a Painting from her collection The Unfinished World. You can listen to the story here.

Amber is one of the short story writers I follow closely. In interviews she talks about how she takes old fairy tales and puts a modern spin on them which I admire.  Her most recent collection is magical and I highly recommend it. 

One of the many aspects I love about this story is that the title draws me in because of the use of the number. There is something seductive about numbers, especially thirteen. There is much debate about the luck of thirteen. The structure of the story also follows a numbered sequence. The story is told with a time traveler attempting to destroy a painting that stubbornly keeps reappearing in her own time. 

Another element that is a takeaway for my own writing is how she uses the repeated element of an object. In this case it is the painting. The painting is an anchor in the story and is referred to in each numbered section. Each iteration of the painting shows the title changes and the size depending on how the time travelers actions affected the painting. These are small details that contribute to the pacing of the story. You keep reading to find out what happens to the painting next. 

As you read, you wonder if she will succeed and destroy the painting eventually. Your brain also knows there are thirteen iterations and then some conclusion will occur.  There is also perseverance as a theme in this story. She doesn’t try to just destroy this painting three times (Magic 3 in fairy tales often) it is 13. There is a stubbornness there from the time traveler which we wonder about throughout the reading.

Time travel is always an element I am drawn to but I have seen it done well and done horribly in short stories and in novels. Satisfying time travel is hard to pull off. Time travel requires a relationship with magic for the author and the reader.

This story also reminds me of the connection between the writing practice we do and how that eventually emerges in a finished piece. Kathy Fish teaches an exercise in her flash fiction classes where you take a scene and write it three different ways. This story shows how an author can do this and make it a published story. This idea also reminds me of an earlier exercise in the course with the I don’t remember prompt and how a similar list shows up in Tobias Wolff’s Bullet to the Brain. I have learned to pick out some of these freewriting elements and how they show up in published pieces.

The characters are identified by their labels in this story, not by name. The names do not matter in this story and gives the reader a bit of distance. The painting itself falls into this category for me as well. The descriptions of the people are tight and pack a lot in a few sentences. For instance: 

He is so young, the artist, a white smooth face in the dark of his walk-up. She supposes this will be easy-from the empty, hungry tilt of his face, to the stooped posture from painting under this sloped attic roof.

The artist looks at her aghast but defiant. The artist knows his way around this kind of truth.

Another pacing technique I noticed is shown in section seven through ten. As the reader is moving through the destruction attempts, this section is written in two sentence bursts with repeated phrasing. This reiterates that the painting still exists and you can feel the frustration of the time traveler’s efforts.

Seven: The time traveler sets fire to the unfinished painting. The painting is still there.

Eight: The time traveler pours acid on the unfinished painting. The painting is still there.

Sparks is a short story writer that achieves a satisfying ending sometimes with unanswered questions which is a reason I read this type of story in the first place. Kelly Link is another author that does the same. Link is more blatant in her “unfinished” endings and has been unapologetic about it.

Thirteen Ways is a story I feel is satisfying but also has sticking power.  When I first read this story I kept coming back to it. I felt a connection to these characters and the frustration from both sides.

I appreciate the style Sparks writes in and underline many of her sentences.

Here is a sentence I love from section Thirteen:

She was more in love with life than with him-she’d never have believed how black and long the days could stretch over her, mean and empty, like shadows in the winter.

I would love to hear your impressions of this story and lines that popped out to you. This is a piece I have used to teach short story to my middle school students along with Neil Gaiman’s Click Clack Rattle Bag. 

I hope you enjoyed it and found something in it for your own writing.

Need a writing prompt today?

I am sending out a writing prompt for the last 100 days of 2020!

Here is today’s:

If you like this prompt come join my Patreon and have them delivered to your inbox every day!

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

Welcome to the weekend! Since most people are still not traveling anywhere let’s pretend we are riding on a train to have an adventure together! We can order a fancy coffee beverage or just plain coffee. On this train, the coffee is amazing so you are free to order anything!

If we were sipping coffee I would ask you if you subscribe to my newsletter – if not, please click here!

If we were sipping coffee I would tell you wrote several posts for my BYOB challenge from Ninja Writers. If you missed them, you can read them here.

Life Experiments

Six Ways to Be a Better Writing Teacher

Do You Know How To Rest?

Can I Ask You A Question?

If we were sipping coffee I would tell you I am still in my program from Caroline Donahue called Write Free. This week we talked more about the critic and I learned more about mine. I thought I had silenced her but she just got quiet. I wrote every day of course. I have been writing with my Sarah Selecky prompts but have not been posting many to the Centered space.

If we were sipping coffee I would tell you I subscribed again to The Letter Exchange (LEX). LEX connects snail mail pen pals through listings in the magazine and provides a confidential letter-forwarding service. I joined in the late 90’s but due to moving around so much the last couple of years it didn’t work. While I was doing a task from The Artist’s Way this week I reminded myself and did a search. I wrote three letters on Saturday!

If we were sipping coffee I would tell you I walked every day. We have been using some new routes and have found a beautiful street to walk down.

Do you need another coffee? I am going to the barista and have him work his magic!

If we were sipping coffee I would tell you I am launching a Patreon page. I have wrestled with the idea of this platform for a while and feel like it will encompass all the things I create and provide in a streamlined way. There will be exclusive posts, workshops, write in’s, a private Slack channel, and coaching opportunities. Stay tuned for more details.

If we were sipping coffee I would tell you I started reading Great House by Nicole Krauss. I am not sure how I missed this book. It is about a writing desk and I love the way she writes her sentences. I am savoring it and reading it slowly. The History of Love was a great read during this pandemic. I want to learn more about Nicole’s process but haven’t been able to find too much.

If we were sipping coffee I would tell you I listened to two great calls with the author Amber Sparks. One was a small library event and she shared some stories that were new to me which was delightful. The second was an event hosted by Politics and Prose and you can watch that here. The other writers on this call are Laura van den Berg, Tania James and Rion Amilcar Scott.

If we were sipping coffee I would tell you this post was inspired by https://eclecticali.wordpress.com/ and https://www.savvywordslinger.com/bloghome. Check them out.

If we were sipping coffee I would love to hear where you would like to travel once we are allowed again. I cannot wait to get over to Germany for Oktoberfest.

Can We Talk?

How Verbalization Can Help Us All Be Better Writers

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Last summer I was honored to attend a literacy conference where Cornelious Minor spoke. I took copious notes and was able to have many conversations with colleagues in the evening. That is the advantage of being at a multiple day conference – you can chat with your tribe about what you learned that day and move forward with plans for the schools.

Over the last 25 years as an educator and attendee of conferences, I have learned to synthesize my notes at the end of the day. I read back through them and fill in the gaps of half written sentences and ideas. I fill out more of the story that was shared I want to remember as an example for teaching later. I also make checklists of action items, things to further research, and people I need to talk to.

I learned Minor also takes notes in a real notebook and carries it around with him all the time when he does workshops. He is full of stories of living in New York and of students and teachers he has worked with. He had to scan all his old notebooks recently because the paper journals were taking too much room in their small NY apartment.

This conference was full of personal connections for me as well. Not only did I have the advantage of having great friends with me to confer with but also a consultant we had worked with for years. I also was able to meet someone in person from Twitter and a connection from a reading board we both had served on at different times. Overall it was three days of connection and learning.

I reflect on this experience this morning and wonder when this will happen again – if ever.

Another way I synthesize info is to skeleton plan a workshop before I even leave. I think about if I were teaching this material to others when I return to where ever I am going what would my spin on this look like. Since the beginning of my career I have paid attention to the nuts and bolts of how presentations are deployed. How did the presenter get everyone engaged? What questions did they ask? Did they do an ice breaker? How did they get people to talk? How did they build relationships? I compare these ideas to my own style and make notes about how it would look for me.

If I am taking a plane I always write and make action plans in my notebooks on the way home. There is something about being away that has a magic spell quality to it. When the wheels touch down at the home airport you have to return to the normal schedule. You fall back into natural tendencies and routine and don’t always use the new learning.

When I started teaching I also made a pact with myself that if I took time to be out of the classroom, I would make sure to use one thing the day I returned.

I do love to give presentations. I have had to move to a virtual world which bring its own complications, but I know how to pivot!

Writing matters.

It gives us tools to deal with struggle. Everyone has experiences and something to say. We have all been broken in some way or another. This applies to us (teachers, or friends of teachers) as writers and our students.

Writing gives us power over our struggle. A way to deal with it and reframe. To try out ways to tell it to other people. It is a powerful device of possibility.

As teachers we create what I call the “greenhouse effect”. We set up all the circumstances for students to have learning experiences with the most amount of obstacles out of the way. This is why we have huge classroom libraries, and over plan. Sometimes we do this too well. The goal is for students to have productive struggle in a balance as to not create frustration and shut down. A certain amount of struggle is needed for learning and retention.

Exercise:

Take out a notebook and a pen or your laptop. Set the timer for 7 minutes. Write whatever comes to mind on the topic of:

Possibility and Power – What do these words conjure up for you?

Do not censor yourself. Just write what comes. Keep your pen moving no matter what comes out.

Ok, the timer went off! You can stop. What did you notice about your thoughts are centered around these two ideas? How does that translate to your classroom?

Verbalization

When we are teaching, one of the most powerful questions we can ask is, “What do you think?” and then wait for the answer. When I have asked this question to students I get the blank stare and many times this statement: “No one has ever asked me that before.”

“What do you think?” is a question we need to be posing more often in order to give them writing practice. We ask students to write a genre after giving only one or two models many times. This is simply not fair. Verbalization can allow practice 9-10 times before writing which gives them a much better opportunity to write a higher quality piece with more confidence.

Talking before writing helps students know what they want to write down. It takes practice to figure out what we want to say. (How many drafts of that email to your principal did you write?)

The person who is doing the talking is the one that is doing the learning. Think about the last time you were in your real life classroom. (I know…go WAY back…) who was doing the talking? In my coaching experience, I would venture to guess you will say the teacher unless you teach a curriculum like EL education where student talk is built in. This is a by product of feeling like there is never enough time. Teachers need to “cover” material for students to be exposed. The worst feeling in the world is to not get to a concept which we know is tested on the high stakes exam and feeling like we didn’t even give our students an opportunity to answer even in a minimal way.

A strategy to get them talking is to use what interests them. This can range from Pokemon to zombie ants. Get them excited and engaged and use that talk to your advantage.

Exercise:

Look at your phone and find a picture that is meaningful to you. If you were to share with someone why it was meaningful, what is the story you would tell?

Storyboards

What is a Storyboard? | Storyboard Template | Storyboard Maker

Another way I have encouraged talk before writing in my classroom is to use an idea I learned from Linda Rief. A simple storyboard of 3-6 boxes is a powerful tool for talk. I have students think of an exciting or an embarrassing story to tell their classmates. I set the timer for 5 minutes and have them sketch and stick figure out the story within the 3-6 boxes. Minimal words are used here. There is a limit of 2 words per box.

Then the student tells the story, using their storyboard to a classmate. The listener gives feedback to what they enjoyed about the story and asks questions about where they are confused.

After three rounds of this practice with different partners the students write their story. The amount of detail and flow to the stories after this exercise works wonders.

How could you provide more opportunities for talk before writing in your classroom? I would love to hear about them in the comments!

August Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

Welcome to the first weekend of August! Summer is officially halfway completed. Have you signed up for my newsletter?

I am having black coffee today as usual. What would you like today? I think we should take a walk after we have a cup or two. The weather has been less humid here this week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am in a course hosted by Caroline Donahue called “Write Free”. It is about coming back to your creativity and getting through blocks. She uses the Mighty Network which works well for this project in my opinion. There is a great community and the content has been stellar in week one. I was able to persuade three writing friends to join so that has been a fun thing to share as well.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I hosted Workshop Wednesday this past week. I prefer interactive classes and it was small enough in order for lots of conversation. The conversation centered around personality types and communication. Many people shared and we laughed a lot.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my kids tease me about doing Zoom calls in the closet. When I have to record anything audio or video it is a good spot with less noise. For workshops I go in there as well of course. A few people made comments afterwards about me teaching from the closet. Sounds like a title of a podcast. The new life we live!!

Do you need a refill? I always drink the first cup so fast!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my Back to Zero plan is still on track with fasting, hydration, and exercise. I ran/walked every day this past week. There were lots of interactions with animals this week. There are horses I pet on my way every day. There is also an attack mama turkey.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I learned about DMO this past Monday. It stands for Daily Method of Operation. It is the 3-5 things that if you do them means a successful day to you. I made a Keep note and have done my three every day. It is a nice tracking piece for me until it becomes engrained.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had a wonderful conversation with a friend on Tuesday and it lit my brain on fire. She made a comment to me that brought me back to what is, not what my perspective is. I have been thinking more and more about going back to coaching. I enjoy it so much. The Workshop Wednesday allowed me to use some of these skills as well as some other conversations this week. The lists have begun in the notebook!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am following the Ninja Writers BYOB (Blog Your Own Book) program this month. Last month was planning and this month is writing. I like the format that Shaunta talks about for articles and so far the community has been wonderful as well.

I would love to hear what delighted you this week!

I will see you in the comments or next week!

Six Ways To Be A Better Writing Teacher

Have you signed up for my newsletter? Do that here.

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

I have been able to attend several writing conferences through my work over the years. One that had profound impact on me was the writers at work hosted by Ruth Culham in Sun Valley Idaho. I did not know the landscape could be so beautiful in a place I associate with potatoes. This education celebrity met with her small circle of authors every year to plan workshops for the year. Then she opened it up to other educators. The travel there had been adventurous for me with a small plane flying through a thunderstorm. It reminded me of the first time I was on a plane when I was 6 years old.

One of the speakers was Ralph Fletcher. He talked about how all teacher needed to be a writer with a lowercase w. The only difference between a writer with a capital and lowercase w is that capital w writers get paid. If you write, you are a writer.

As teachers, we need our students to learn to write in order to express themselves. I have found through my coaching and my own education experience that writing scares the hell out of most people. There is not a lot of instruction in writing in teacher prep courses. Why would you expect your students to do something that you are unwilling to do?

My Action List:

  1. Bradbury Challenge
  2. Unpack the Text
  3. Learn Through Your Ears
  4. Write in the Edges
  5. Challenges
  6. Join a group of creatives or writers

Bradbury Challenge

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1*jKJz9ioUILFbYSx0K6w1ig.png

Ray Bradbury said read one poem a night, one short story a night, one essay a night, for the next 1,000 nights.

This is his formula for an MFA. It works.

It is impossible to not be a better writer if you follow this formula. Read what you like from authors you like. It does not have to be any way connected to the grade level you teach.

recommendations:

Essays: Natalie Goldberg, Ray Bradbury, Zadie Smith, David Sedaris, Roxane Gay

Short stories: Nancy Stohlman, Kathy Fish, Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link

Poems: Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Naomi Shihab Nye

Unpack The Text

When you read a piece you particularly write then study it. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What works in this piece and how does it make me feel?
  2. How did the author achieve this feeling in me?
  3. What are my favorite lines?
  4. What can I try in my own writing that the author does?

Action: Write something inspired by the text you studied.

Learn Through Your Ears

One of the ways I take advantage of extra time is to listen to podcasts. I love writing podcasts in particular. I listen to podcasts mostly in the car and during workouts. There is a rotation but I always learn something.

Favorite Podcasts:

  1. Why is This Good? Naples Writers’ Workshop
  2. How Do You Write? Rachael Herron
  3. The Writers Well Podcast J Thorn and Rachael Herron
  4. How Writers Write
  5. Stop Writing Alone Nicole Rivera
  6. Qwerty Marion Roach Smith
  7. Fierce Womxn Writing
  8. Good Life Project
  9. Any podcast with Karissa Kouchis as a guest.

I also like audio courses. I have been listening to Tony Robbins and his Personal Power 30 day program and his Beautiful State training.

Listen to what fuels you and write down the memories and stories that come to mind as you listen. Write about those ideas.

Write in the Edges

I learned a long time ago that if I want to make sure I do something, I have to schedule it.

Write now, open your planner/schedule and plan a 10 minute writing time for the next 7 days.

During that time write:

  1. A memory
  2. Whatever comes to mind
  3. The story about one of your notes
  4. A reflection of a favorite line from something you read
  5. A new story based on a title of something you have read
  6. Morning Pages
  7. Anything in response to a journal prompt
  8. How you are feeling in that moment

My advice is also to carry a notebook and write down ideas that strike you, an overhead conversation, an interesting detail, a 5 senses description of where you are throughout the day. I strive for at least 10 snippets a day.

If you don’t like the notebook use a note taking app on your phone. I am partial to Google Keep. It backs itself up (I lost a whole note app full of gems I can never get back – a whole other story.) You can share notes and also easily make it a Google Doc. You can also use voice to text in this app which works for me when walking or driving. If you run and try to talk there are weird connections of words the device will pick up!

Challenges

Challenges give me a structure and a schedule. There are small challenges and large ones but I gravitate to 30 day or 100 challenges. Some examples are: Storyaday May and September, NANOWRIMO, #the100dayproject, Five Minute Friday (FMF), and Two Writing Teachers blogging.

Storyaday: This challenge is hosted by Julie Duffy and it is just what it sounds like: one story a day for the month of May and/or September. I have challneged my middle school students to do this challenge as well.

NANOWRIMO: National Novel Writing month. This challenge is to write a 50,000 word manuscript in the month of November.

#the100dayproject: A creative challenge that starts at the beginning of April. The artist creates something every day. In 2020, I wrote a random sentence every day and am creating a short story based on these sentences. Some people do post it note drawings, or doodles, or paintings, or 100 word essays, or poems. It is up to you!

FMF: Hosted by Kate Motaung Kate posts a word on Friday with a great visual. You write with this word for five minutes.

Two Writing Teachers Blog: Every Tuesday, teacher writers post on their own blogs and link up on the TWT blog. In March there is a daily blog challenge where there is support and lots of comments.

Join A Group

There are lots of groups to choose from. Lots of time if you take a class or workshop you can find people you want to continue to talk to after the course is over. There are many writing groups online that are more public like Twitter and Instagram.

There are communities you can join such as Storyaday Superstars, Ninja Writers, Sarah Selecky Writing School, Teachwrite, and Jackie Aston. Almost every author you follow has a connection to a community somewhere. I found Storyaday by Googling several years ago. Find your people!

The point is you want to find a group that is nourishing to you. Some are paid, some are free but you may have to try a few before you find the one where you fit.

Connection

After you try one or all six of these ideas, your brain will start to make connections to how this translates to your classroom. It can even be one of the things you write about during your scheduled 10 minutes.

If you write, you are a writer.

Your students will listen to you more as a model of being a writer rather than being someone who just talks about writing. There must be action.

Next Right Step

Make a change in your writing life today. Write something. Buy a notebook and a pen you like.

Your students will thank you.

Sign up for my newsletter here.

Monday Delights

An Exercise in Paying Attention

Several weeks ago a book came into my circle of influence called

The Book of Delights: Essays - Kindle edition by Gay, Ross ...

Ross Gay decided to write an essay about a daily delight starting on his birthday. I was delighted (ha ha) when I found this idea and started logging my own delights. I started with essays, but then switched to logging my delights in my Keep notes or in my Passion Planner.

What delights you?

Here is a small list of mine:

  1. The Delight of a little bit of shade with trees on my sunny running route.
  2. The Delight of a discovery of a pattern.
  3. The Delight of sparkle water. This is what I call the carbonated water in a can like Perrier. This is my new favorite drink.
  4. The Delight of hearing the perfect phrase on a podcast when you know the Universe is working FOR you.
  5. The Delight of being in a canoe on the Wisconsin River with the perfect weather and the perfect company.
  6. The Delight of mail! Deliveries and surprises.

I would love to hear about your delights!

If you would like to read more about this idea click here.

Fire #SOL20

Photo by moein moradi on Pexels.com

It is summer. It is the season for heat. Wisconsin has been providing temperatures in the 90’s the last couple of weeks. It doesn’t stop me from action whether that be writing or running.

What is getting you fired up?

As always, I am doing a lot of things at once. It is how I work. After much deliberation to what the right time was I put together a collection of my short stories for Amazon. You can find that here.

Why Is Life So Hard?: A Short Story Collection by [Tammy L.  Breitweiser]

I am fired up about my health. I am eating healthier, following a plan that works for me and settling into a lifestyle rather than a diet.

I am fired about about school in the fall. I am learning about what e-learning should look like (just in case) and working on activities and units for my K kids.

I am fired about writing. Daily writing and working with my communities is exciting. I am listening to podcasts, rereading Big Magic, and taking notes on my walks and runs. I am finding new podcasts.

One I will recommend is Cutting Chai Stories. You can find that here.

Cutting Chai Stories

You can now listen to my podcast on Spotify too.

With my coaching program, I am doing lots of work around identity. This is working for me in a career sense and also a writing sense. Lots of exploration for me and thinking.

Lots of exciting things happening in this season of summer. I am trying to get as much joy as possible!

What is firing you up?

Summer Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

It is the weekend again! Summer is moving along. We have been engrossed in it for a week now. Have you done anything fun?

I am having black coffee today since I am fasting. I have some creamer and some other flavors. Would you like ice water today? It has been hot here. I do love these mugs though. I bought some after I had coffee in them at a coffee shop back in Indiana.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we went to a water park for Father’s Day. Because of corona and the ripple effect, there were only about 6 rides open. It was a beautiful sunny 80-degree day. Because of my Back to Zero program, I was not embarrassed to be in a swimsuit. By the time we go camping at the end of July, I will be back to the weight and look want to be. We rode the slides until we didn’t feel like it anymore. We ate in the park because the meal deals came with our tickets. Then we of course stopped for ice cream. I am going to have to call this the ICE CREAM Share by the time summer is over.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am taking a writing class this week and couldn’t be more thrilled. After I read the first story on Monday morning I was blown away with how wonderful all the writing is from the other participants. There was one It was one flash piece that stuck with me all day and I kept going back to reread it. The exercises are ones that I can come back to again and again. The instructor has at least 5 example stories for each day, most of which were new to me. I also appreciated the mini video explanations that she included this time as well. It was so worth the money but her classes always are.

If we were having coffee I would tell you my story was published in a book! Here is the link to purchase. I am super excited to have a story and an essay now in a real book. I loved this story too called APP WORLD and had fun writing it.

If we were having coffee I would tell you a poem was published this week. You can read it here.It is called Window of Time.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I published an article about closing gaps in Teachers on Fire magazine. Even if you aren’t a teacher, summer is a time to learn something new or take an action to become more of the person you want to be. You can click and read that here.

If we were having coffee I would tell you we went to the beach this week. We played in the water, jumped off the pier, and enjoyed the beautiful day. Of course, there was ice cream involved before we set back home.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you a friend through Unleashing Her Power Within just launched her website. Her first post is up and it is amazing! Check that out here.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the kids and I went to a fun tourist attraction called the TOP SECRET Upside Down House. The kids’ reactions were the best. There was a photo op before we went in of course. They each got little secret agent cards. Then we went to lunch. It was an adventure.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you a writing friend and I have decided to check in with each other more often. We have been giving feedback to each other’s writing the last couple of weeks and I am glad to welcome her to my inner circle of writing! I was thrilled she reached out.

What is new with you this week? What decisions have you made to move forward?

I would love to hear. Til next week’s coffee time!

What Gap Do You Need to Close? #SOL20

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

In education, we talk about gaps all the time. The gap of learning where children start and where we want them to go based on standards and minimum requirements. Sometimes it is how we can enrich a child that has special potential. 

We are always minding the gap.

Summer is the time for educators to examine the gaps within our own knowledge and experience and fill that to become a better instructor.

So I ask you today, what gap do you need to close for yourself professionally?

Over the course of the spring many of us had to close gaps in our knowledge arsenal quickly. I learned how to make Screencastify videos, how to be comfortable trying to teach through a screen, how to create and take a virtual field trip, how to engage students over a Zoom meeting, and how to make and manipulate a Bitmoji classroom.

I am always learning. 

The dreams about school have already started for me. I dreamed I changed classrooms with a teacher I taught with several years ago. I was teaching intervention groups in the hallway. I was trying to order a calendar set and worried it wouldn’t come in on time.

Usually, the dreams don’t start until August but this was an unusual school year for me. Not only did I have to conquer the pandemic constraints to my job but I also changed jobs and states. This was the change I desired. The teaching from home and the ending of the school year was not my choice but as a kindergarten teacher, you have to be adaptable.

I have a professional book to read for school this summer. I am making lists in my passion planner of things I want to buy and do this year with my kindergartners. I have excitement to start the school year already. 

I have a list of books I will try to find at the thrift shop for my classroom. I am looking at the activities and protocols I will teach the first week. I pay attention to my Pinterest feed and am making materials to use with my students. I am going to use Canva more to make certain items visually appealing. I have the time now and can play without the pressure of having to push it out immediately.

I am a risk-taker in my classroom. If an idea comes to the surface we try it and see what happens. I am open with the kids about this. I tell them – if we like it and it works we keep it. If not, we chuck it.

I will have a spot on my board for something interesting that day. It might be a quote, a picture to make them think, a question of the day, or a fun word for them to use.

I am going to do priming exercise with my kids every day to get them ready for learning. It is a combination of breathing and visualizations. 

To keep me on my toes I have decided to write an article about education every week. This is easy to remember with Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life challenge.

One of the things I want to bring to my kids this year is delight. School is supposed to be fun. I have to figure out how to layout my room. Thinking through some of the activities I want to incorporate into the day will help with this task as well.

To close the gap, I will study and make sure to take notes. How will you?