Words Matter #SOL22 Day 1

“Your words have never mattered more,” I emphasized to our 6th grade students. Their writing teacher and my good friend and colleague, had tragically lost her husband in a car accident over the weekend. Our hearts felt heavy. We knew there was nothing we could do to take away this pain, but we could use our words to bring hope and comfort, to share our love and concern, to offer our thoughts and prayers.

Some looked up verses, others found poems and quotes. Ty wrote from his heart, as he has experienced the loss of his brother. His words were direct and to the point, sharing advice only someone who has walked this road could offer. Carter said, “I just don’t know what to say.” We talked through several phrases that people use to extend sympathy. Some sat with their heads down, not sure how to process such a loss.

My teacher brain wants to reflect/critique my time with these writers. I should have had a couple mentor text examples. If I would have created a word bank they would have had some sentence starters. But my heart tells me, there are times when we do the best we can. This was not an easy day. I pray their beloved writing teacher can feel their love poured out through the words on their pages.

This is my third year to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge. 31 days of writing about small moments in life. Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for hosting this challenge.

The Sock Puppet Snafu #SOL21

Elementary Education Art

My daughter, Gretchen, is in her junior year of college at Indiana University. She is majoring in elementary education and special education. She is currently enrolled in her elementary art class. Who remembers that?? I sure do…a paper mache rabbit, clay face, stamping. Recently she was home for the weekend and working on creating a puppet for an assignment. When students presented their puppet, it needed to have some sort of speech. I was excited to “help” with her creation!

I think I’m just going to use a sock and make a bird.

Ooh, sounds perfect! Maybe the bird could recite a spring poem.

Gretchen finds an old sock and cuts a hole for the mouth.

Do we have any yellow construction paper?

Yes, check the den. It’s on the tray where I keep the printer paper.

Let’s head to the basement and look through the tubs with crafting supplies.

A treasure awaits us…googly eyes, yarn, hot glue gun, even some raffia that could make a “nest.”

We work together. I am in charge of hot glue dots while Gretchen applies the various parts to her bird. The masterpiece was finished!

What poem should I choose?

Maybe the one about hope by Emily Dickinson.

Oh, yes! That’s perfect!

After a few trial runs, Gretchen is ready for the zoom presentation the next day.

Then next day, during Gretchen’ class, I started receiving text messages:

There was a moment of panic, but all ended up well! It was fun to create with her. I’m looking forward to future lesson planning and sharing ideas with this new teacher ❤️


Accessibility for All

I’m not a Netflix binge type of person. In fact, I have only recently started watching a few shows. Schitt’s Creek has gotten so much hype, I felt like I was missing out if I didn’t at least try to watch it. I have found the 20 minute episodes are the perfect distraction during my elliptical workout. And when Firefly Lane, a book by Kristin Hannah, was released, I knew I would tune in. In fact, my husband and I are six episodes in and so tempted to binge the last 3 on our snow day today, but we have a strict policy of only one episode at a time.

As I began watching these shows, closed captioning popped up on the screen. My daughter is in charge of the account, so she must have activated that in the settings. It has helped me tremendously! One reason I don’t enjoy watching TV or movies is I have difficulty discerning what the characters are saying. The music/sound parts are loud and the voices tend to be jumbled or too soft. Closed captioning has greatly increased not just my enjoyment in watching these shows, but my understanding of the plot.

In preparing sign ups for a family book club at school this month, I received a note from a parent (who is deaf) requesting closed captioning for our meetings. It got me thinking, why isn’t this just standard practice? Closed captioning helps all…not just the hearing impaired. Our district practices Universal Design for Learning, so I am accustomed to creating lesson plans that allow all learners to access the content and provide them with multiple means to express their learning. Netflix and this request from a parent have caused me to broaden to my thinking on accessibility. How can I level the playing field for all? Create book access, parent communication, teacher professional development that allows for multiple entry points? I never imagined that Netflix would stretch my thinking in a such good way.


Coach and Player, Father and Son

They communicate via hand signals on the field. They huddle around the ipad watching film. They discuss plays over a dry erase board. They stand shoulder to shoulder on the sideline analyzing the game execution. Coach and player. Father and son.

Watching from the stands, I am on the outside looking in. But I know what I see. A season in life that will be bitter sweet. One we will look back on with fond memories. One that is slipping away and will be gone before we want it to be.

It’s part of the family DNA. Coaching, teaching, making an impact on young lives. My husband and his 2 brothers were coached by their father. All three went on to become high school teachers and coaches. They have impacted countless young men, but their most valuable impact has been on their sons and learning life lessons through the game of football.

As I prepare my heart for what might be the last game where father coaches son, I am not ready. One is still the young coach holding his infant son smiling after a victory. The other is still the 8 year old ball boy running on and off the sideline. Eighteen years of father and son together on the field. I’m sure in those final hugs there will be tears of joy and sorrow but most of all tears of gratitude for getting to experience something so special.

Three generations of Bless men