Showing, not telling 22/31 #SOL2023

“Learning is this fluid thing, it’s social it’s dynamic – your background, your identity are factors that contribute to your learning.”

“Learning is heavily based on a social dynamic and experiences.” Eric Cross from The Science of Reading Podcast

I had this idea for a writing lesson in the shower then tried to hold it in my head until I got to school. Of course, I didn’t write it down and the usual important coversations with colleagues took my brain away from the plan to create the lesson. But, thankfully, I didn’t lose it entirely. Instead, I rushed quickly preparing the lesson with seven minutes to go before the bell – phew!

Here’s the idea:

Create a series of short scenarios with emotions and circumstances written in large print on pieces of paper. Students in small groups randomly draw a scenario, keep it secret from the rest of the class and write a paragraph that shows without telling.

Here’s one example of a scenario:

And here’s another:

I wanted them to show the emotion and circumstance without using any of the words or even synonyms for the words. They worked with a partner or in a small group and then I read their paragraph to the rest of the class. Other students had to guess the emotion and circumstances.

Correct guesses meant they had succeeded in giving enough description or dialogue to show without telling.

And that’s when the markers came out.

“I’m marking up your face to show you…” I heard from across the room combined with peels of laughter and joy. I assured them it would wash off and then helped them to use dialogue in their paragraph. I stopped by a group of girls who had the first prompt and we talked about the evidence that someone is your best friend.


“Sitting at lunch with them every day for the past year.”

We talked about the look on a sad person’s face and how they walk and breathe. And when they walked out of the room, it struck me that I was showing these grade 9s how to struggle a bit together, and that writing stories can be joyful.


One Fix 21/31 #SOL2023

Something has changed. I mean, radically changed in my grade 9 class.

Rather than provide a history, I’ll share something that happened today which seemed to fix student comprehension of paragraphs. And it also helped them think about prefixes.

Here’s the lesson:

With your table group, create a poster using online research to demonstrate knowledge required for paragraph writing in narratives.

Here’s what happened:

They shared rules discovered: a topic sentence, a concluding sentence, and a few other rules which were easy to dispute when we talked about it. All they needed to do was open the books they were reading to realize that not every paragraph in a narrative has a topic and concluding sentence. They crossed out those rules.

And then this idea of “unity and coherence” was raised by one student. I said, “Let’s just figure out unity first.”

So I moved to the board and wrote down the word

“Tell me everyword you know that looks or sounds like the word, unity”.

universe (Marvel)

United (Manchester)

unit (math)

university (“my sister goes there!”)


“Unicorn! Tell me about a unicorn!” They all had their hands up to their foreheads immitating the mythological horse when a student said, “the prefix uni must be one, because a unicorn has one horn.” We then back tracked through the words to see the pattern.

They decided we didn’t need a poster to understand the rules of a paragraph. They came together and collaboratively decided that paragraphs just needed the ideas and thinking to be connected — to be as one.

Unprepared 20/31 #SOL2023

I was expecting the text and photo around the time they arrived, but I wasn’t expecting my reaction. I knew it would be evidence of the gentle passing of our twelve year old Apricot Standard Poodle, Fergie (nod to the Duchess) and I thought the planning would leave me prepared.

Her physical deterioration had began six months prior. We noticed a diminishing, typical of age. We took her on the ususal walks which gradually slowed until one day she started limping. Just her right leg, but it was clear that she was in pain. We speculated: a pulled muscle? Maybe it happened at the dog park during a ball throwing session? Maybe she got a bit too enthusiastic for her age?

So, we shortened the walks, and threw the ball less frequently. But, nothing worked.

The vet took xrays and delivered the news. “I’m so sorry, but it’s bone cancer. Advanced too. It’s really spread.” We talked about options, but the way forward was clear. Amputation was not an option. We did not want her to suffer. A date for euthenasia was planned.

Then remarkably, she improved and as the scheduled day neared, we felt like we were putting our seemingly healthy dog to sleep prematurely. We cancelled promptly, and continued enjoying our senior dog and her new little brother.

That is, until her second last day. (I still shudder a bit with the memory, full of guilt about her ending.)

A few weeks after we canceled the vet visit. Duke, the puppy, jumped down from the sofa and Fergie followed. I saw her jump, tail up and wagging, and I saw her fall, suddenly seeming to break in two. Her back fractured in the middle and her tail end dropped to the floor. Eyes filled with panic darted up at me as she struggled to right herself.

Her hind end was paralyzed.

The shock of the moment gave us strength to lift her weighty body from the floor to her soft bed and we comforted her as she panted anxiously. George rushed to call the vet, but it was late, too late for immediate action, so she would need to spend the night on her bed sleeping away from us for the first time in her life. The emergency line took our call and the euthenasia was planned for the next day.

I rose and dressed for school, knowing that George would be taking her to the vet while I was teaching. I kissed her where she lay, exactly where we had placed her the night before. I was going to work, so I prepared and left without crying.

“Text me to let me know when she’s gone. I want to know she is no longer in pain.”

Then the picture arrived. George mustering a smile through tears, Fergie looking longingly up into his eyes for reassurance.

I was expecting it.

I thought I was prepared.

But even writing about this now, I realize we can never be prepared to lose what we have loved.

Which is why… 19/31 #SOL2023

Which is why I negotiate terms,

digging for meaning, reason,

some logic where mostly wounds

seep, spilling over the container.

Which is why I read and doubt,

tapping out a way toward resolution

of those words not my own.

Which is why I am never settled,

spinning some storied cloth

for comfort in understanding another.

Which is why I still write.

(Inspired by Amanda Potts’ post here:

To Sleep 18/31 #SOL2023

“Perchance to dream…”

I didn’t sleep well last night. Around 1am, our bedroom door swung open and startled me out of my dream. I don’t remember the dream now, but it was unsettling and this spilled over into my wakeful tossing which faciliatated some anxious weaving of stories which kept me awake for a few hours.

“Just stop”, I finally told myself, and then decided to soften the accusations and practice some relaxation and meditation.

At 1pm, my husband and I moved the ottoman, laid out the yoga mats and began our weekend workout. Part way through our two minute plank, I glanced over at the sofa, perpendicular to my straining body, and noticed that the dog was already breathing heavily, his paws dangling off the edge of the sofa twitching slightly.

Damn, I thought. If only I could plop down anywhere and be asleep within a minute.

I think my dog might just be a reincarnation of some spirit guide meant to show me how to live. He’s always excited to see everyone, no matter who they might be, or what they might have done; everyone is a potential friend. He eats when he is hungry, sleeps when he is tired, and dreams of repeating the same walk everyday with a bounce in his step and a wag of his tail.

10 Things I Did Today 17/31 #SOL2023

  1. I lounged in epson salts and listened to the most recent episode of On Being.
  2. I skimmed two new books over coffee.
  3. I gave written feedback on personal essays noting how many revisions student had in the Chrome extension, Draftback, and told them to watch the sped up video to see if they could observe patterns in their writing and thinking.
  4. I helped Duke try on his new raincoat and boots. (That’s him in the photo.)
  5. I listened to my neighbour share some hard news, and hugged them.
  6. I shopped for a new slow cooker with my husband and bought my son some shorts.
  7. I thought and reflected a lot. Maybe too much, because some relationships are trapped in a cycle.
  8. I decided to break that cycle.
  9. I planned.
  10. I healed, a bit.

Belay 16/31 #SOL2023

We are more than halfway into March break and there is a greater distance between my shoulders and my ears. I’m already sleeping more deeply though not longer.

This morning, I reread Tobi’s post with her March break resolutions and felt the connection which comes from a professional and personal understanding; our teacher friends don’t need an explanation about the deep sense of concern or worry or not-enoughness. Time and the pandemic and social forces stretch us. Forces draw attention and division pulling us apart.

Yet, within this gap of time, I’m slowing down and listening inside more, so I was delighted to listen to Jane Hirshfield on Ezra Klein’s podcast said that “a good poem is never accusatory”. I sat with this idea for a few days. I thought about this poem, and this poem. Both came from challenging situations, and I realized these felt like accusations in the moment, but instead, they were a response, my response, the specific reaching out to the universal.

In the interview, Hirschfield explains this so beautifully:

So, for me — there might be somebody else who would have a different definition of a good poem, and they are entitled to their own taste and their own preferences. But, for me, if a poem points a finger and shakes it at another person, it is a narrowing of understanding. You can do that without poetry. You don’t need a poem to say j’accuse and point your finger.

But poems are, for me, always an attempt to see from more than one point of view in more than one way, to enlist the collaboration of tongue, heart, mind, body, everything I have ever experienced, and to try to write into an awareness which is larger than the everyday, walking around forms of thought.

My brother took up rock climbing and my understanding of the vocabulary skimmed the surface. To me, repelling down a cliff face or “belaying” was the release of tension. That was my childhood understanding. Until today, when I looked up the term while searching for a way to describe this loosening that is happening in me. I was wrong and this shift in meaning, the new comprehension matters.

Name a few beautiful things 15/31 #SOL

A Few Beautiful Things

Dust dancing in a slant of sunlight caressing the air and then the hardwood floor.

Shelves of words carefully wrought for modellng and sharing and hearts.

Dog sighs releasing the tension of squirrel guard duty.

House hums, voices upstairs incomprehensible in word, but completely understood in mood.

Musicical strains crafted from ancient gashes transported to a moment and a moment and a moment, lived and then repaired to be lived again upon another ear.

Concave grooves in granite steps signalling a shared path generation upon generation.

Wood — just wood — is beautiful on its own whose life essence never changes.

Illusion 14/31 #SOL2023

I count the days before March break imagining long swaths of time on the sofa, under covers, in the bath. The “break” arrives and I sink into the freedom of unscheduled time on the Saturday and Sunday, revelling in two hour conversations with friends at coffee shops. I have nothing to worry about spending so much time because no unfinished work or thoughts badger me.

Then, Monday arrives and the illusion breaks. We have a broken washing machine so we take the time to shop and buy a new one, plan the installment, then visit a planner for the bathroom which needs renovating. Tuesday is the dental appointment that I scheduled six months ago, and before I know it the week is planned. Of course, I’m on a break and need to get things done.

Monday night breaks the illusion fully. I think that I’m sleepy. But, my scheduling mind has other ideas and sifts through school-related tasks that need attention. An hour into the tossing, I complete the calculations and decide to provide feedback to a minimum of 15 students per day to avoid the dreaded weekend-before-school hustle.

For me, March break shifts my attention from the people to the paper, from the community in person to the community online. I welcome the rest where planning for the future lessons happens, yet I also know by Tuesday that the long swaths of time of my imagination might just be an illusion.

“The mind that thought” 13/31 #SOL2023

I scrolled through my instagram feed and came across this poem addressed to an “empty coffee cup”.

“and the mind that thought” – this phrase struck me as unusual or in need of more consideration.

I felt the division in that moment between the mind that is mindless and the mind that thinks about itself.

So, I decided to write alongside this poem:

Caffeine Nation

Dear full coffee cup,

I don’t see you, sitting on the table, waiting for my mouth.

Sitting darkly flat, steaming at me.

You are in the queue after Wordle, and other interactions,

the early text messages of despair,

the dog pushing to go out the door.

But, it is wise to now turn my attention your way, grasp your handle, kiss your rim with love and mindful thought.

Memory Seized 12/31 #SOL2023

Memories lodge themselves inside us.

My memories arise, often unexpectedly, while some sleep. I cannot bring some to the surface, and I don’t think I have what’s called a “good memory”. My husband, on the other hand, recounts dates and places readily; he drives once to a location and returns as if the route was well travelled. Not me. I’m often lost — directionally challenged — and some details of my life hide in the byzantine conduits of brain matter; memories silently wait until one seizes, grasping consciousness.

A vivid memory burst through the surface of the day just as I decided to start writing this post. I rose from the sofa having sufficiently cuddled the dog, and my daughter, reclining on the sofa, began having a seizure. (This is a regular occurence in our household as she has lived most of her life with a seizure disorder.) This particular memory lives deeply etched in some visual system — I can see the hospital room in Detroit, remember the five sets of eyes turn my way filled with panic as the operating room doors swung behing me, my one year old baby girl lying on the paper covered bed with tubes and electrodes and devices everywhere, my husband’s mouth open as I watched his body slowing buckle at the knees.

But I need to back up a bit.

We were in Detroit because Ontario did not have a PET scan for such a small body. We were in the hosptial room as we waited for the radioactive isotope to take effect. I was coming in the doors after getting a coffee and checking on my six year old son who was staying with my mother in Goderich. I entered the room just as the doctors told my husband her blood oxygen levels were dropping to a critical rate and they wouldn’t be able to complete the scan today. We had one day. We were there to stop the seizures.

If I’m being completely honest, I had been falling apart, but in that moment, I changed. I seized it and moved quickly to hold up my husband, to ask questions, to make decisions, to persuade the doctors to rush her through before the isotope degraded significantly so the scan could not be completed. Calm logic and reason dominated: “We cannot stay another day. Her blood oxygen is low because she has a cold. Can you move quickly on this and complete the scan?”

Her seizures grabbed our attention because they demanded intervention; but that didn’t stop them. Nothing stopped them. We tried the ketogenic diet, every anti-convulsant currently on the market, and each attempt felt more and more intense and futile. We were stuck, like the backspace, and the memory of that moment is too.

The Backspace 11/31 #SOL2023

It started sticking about a year ago. I’d hit that rectangular black button expecting erasure. But, nothing. No movement left — that is, no movement to the left of the page. I’d tap the button a few times seeing intermittent backspacing, and then every once and a while, it would defy my commands demanding that I make a decision. Either use the cursor to move to a place from which one can delete information or persist to the point of punching the blessed button.

Now, if you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I’m in love with metaphors; they are the flesh by which my life is governed. In fact, my backspace just stuck again while typing words that I do not want to write. This particular backspace forces me to face the words I’ve written, to linger with them a while longer than I want. This particular backspace is the source of much family banter and lends itself to auditory evidence of frustration and frivolity.

My laptop is located centrally in our small house; on a stand up desk in the living/dining room within earshot of the kitchen. Sometimes when I’m typing furiously and frequently force my fingers on that black spot rapping away in some seemingly futile attempt to send those letters back, I hear my son snicker in the background. To him, the solution is simple.

“Get a new laptop, Mum.”

But environment, but tabs, but comfort, but…

We cannot go back and undo what has been done. This backspace is like life. I have to come to terms with what is, instead of forcing some other version of the story. For now, for today at least, I’ll keep this backspace as a reminder to choose my words ever so carefully.

(“Computational tools aren’t going to make people recognize our humanity” courtesy of Autumn Caines)

Meraki 10/31 #SOL2023

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows came into my life in October of 2014 with “Sonder” and the accompanying video. I’d often thought about the limits of English, or maybe I should say my limits to find the words to convey some emotion of sadness, despair, some bone-felt experience of sorrow.

And, this concept of “sonder”, of everyone having a story, intersecting, overlapping, invisible threads of story which murmur across the landscape of time and place, well — that was just inspiring to me. I loved everything creative about the development of new words to solidify our experience. And here was a visual and auditory explanation of a word that didn’t exist, someone proposing a word that encapsulated this complex idea; so complex that it needed a video nearly three minutes long to explain the meaning of “sonder”.

Several years later when John Koenig published his dictionary, I bought the physical book and thumbed through pages during morning reads with students, skipping some, returning to others. Until Meraki seized me by the throat and I closed the hardbound pocket-sized book of imaginary words at that page. The response surprized me. These words do not exist, I told myself, and moved on with work, with home, with life. Being an English teacher makes me believe in the authenticity of words. This obscure word which grabbed me held no power, so I dismissed it.

Until this week, when I opened the Dictionary again to this very same magical word. I realized that belief in this word is not required; it happens anyway and that part of myself is always leaving me and never staying. The part of myself that I give is no longer mine.

Three Memories Of Silence 9/31 #SOL2023

Inspired by “Writing Down the Bones Deck” by Natalie Goldberg

  1. I am in the triangular-shaped back yard of my childhood home — 2 Norwich Place, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The rough slate stone patio built by my father’s hands is cool beneath my feet which dangle from the picnic table, the place I am sitting as the sun is rising eating my bowl of Cheerios and milk. I am alone but not as a blue jay drops from a nearby tree to tilt his head as one inspecting an intruder. I hear the crunch of the cereal in my cheeks, the gulp as it goes down, the titter of birds, doors closing, first a house, then a car, muffled words. All these sounds around me pull at my attention while my heart swells and there is silence in my mind.
  2. I have 12 hours to wait for the flight and no where to go. This place can no longer be found on a map – Yugoslavia – the stopover before Istanbul, Turkey. The squeak of black leather echoes through the darkened space which will eventually be filled with passengers. Not now, though. It is after midnight and I’m alone and afraid, just waiting to board my flight, and the silence makes me freeze in place.
  3. I log in to the Google Meet and icons multiply taking up space on the screen. It looks like the students are present for this virtual class, at least their icons suggest this. I talk and share my screen and outline the lesson and the tasks and propose discussion points and wait. I try again with talk and time to think, a jamboard, a waterfall chat, a collaborative document or slide and I wait. We end the class, I wave goodbye and a flurry of voices chime in with “thank you” and “bye” and “see you tomorrow”. Then my classroom is silent.

What was lost 8/31 #SOL2022

A writing prompt that I used recently asked students to consider a time when they lost something important. I wrote with them, remembering the time I was twelve and my mother bought me a charm bracelet, sterling silver. Back then I took figure skating lessons and with each event (which abruptly ended in high school right about the time she left my father) I’d get another silver charm. My facial expressions mirrored her joy as we shared an appreciation of the object – one that held experiences as memories, charms to mark perceived successes. But, I knew then, just as I know now, that the bracelet meant more to her than me.

I was never really conscious of objects having emotional worth, or at least back then I didn’t. I wasn’t conscious of the obligation to someone who gave you the object. I wasn’t aware that the care of the object represented the care for the relationship. But, I think that’s what she thought.

Of course, I lost it, somewhere in the bushes and grasses along the Humber River or in the backyard below the Williow tree that I climbed for refuge from the world. My mother finally realized my diversions were an admission of my failure. I had lost the covetted object. And, she interpreted this loss as personal. This loss meant that I didn’t value her or my relationship with her. Our connection frayed and I internalized the blame.

But, this wasn’t the case at all. I just didn’t understand what it meant to her. I just wasn’t invested in the keeping of things at that age. I don’t think I understood the significance of memories bound to things, because I had never really lost something significant. She had lost a stable home to grow up in during the war, half her stomach from a perforated ulcer at nineteen, a country and immediate access to family when she emigrated to Canada. I was twelve and lost a charm bracelet.

But, what was lost was not the same.

Quitting #SOL2023

My mother told me that she’d kill me if I ever took up smoking. This advice scratched against my skin while I breathed in her second-hand smoke and the threat at the same time. I suspect she persisted with her addiction because she didn’t want to gain the weight of quitting — physically and psychically.

I also imagine, she believed her words would carry weight with me, that narratives about the dangers, all the reasons why I should not “make the same mistake” would somehow innoculate me. But, I did it anyway. Like her, I was calculating costs.

I started innocently enough; not out of some rebellious streak against her. Instead I took up smoking in university as a sort of assimilation. I immitated friends whose thin svelt bodies I admired — I wanted to be them and I’d been shamed for curves and an appetite. Coffee and cigarettes were cool back then. Food was optional, fat was imprudent, maybe even evidence of flawed character.

I’d already experienced a youthful bout with self-imposed starvation in high school. Praise and attention were the rewards of disappearing. And then I found another addiction — long distance running — a replacement, a substitute to fill the emptiness of quitting.

With running there is always somewhere to go. I love the freedom that comes with running — you are responsible to no one but yourself, and I do most of my listening to books or podcasts on my long runs. They take me out of my tossled head and force my body into familiar patterns of movement which may be fast or may be slow. But I am definitely, quitting — but not running, nor teaching.

(Inspired by Tobi Hunt McCoy’s post “Not Today”)

Documenting 6/31 #SOL

Linda Berry created this interesting writing prompt at the outset of the pandemic; I used it with a few of my classes, and some students found the process comforting. I know that I did. It was published in the New York Times and titled “Documenting All the Small Things That Are Easily Lost”.

The instructions provided in the Google Classroom were written like this:

“Documenting All the Small Things That Are Easily Lost” By Lynda Barry
Before you begin, learn a bit about the author.
An introduction to the author: (3:05
And her identity: (to 3:30
An assignment for all of us to help capture an extraordinary time.

When you think of the time just before now, what do you remember? If this is easy for you, then write; if this is complicated, try the following steps:

1. Draw a slow tight spiral and let your mind’s eye drift to scenes that come back to you when you think about what started to change, what became important, where were you, what were you doing. For 1 minute, spiral and drift.

2. For two minutes, make a list of those scenes and any other scenes that come to you. Look for scenes you can picture like snapshots, things you were doing, places you went, where and what and who.

3. Imagine yourself in one of those scenes and answer these questions. Complete sentences are best, but don’t limit yourself.

Where are you?
What is the time of day?
Where is the light coming from?
What’s going on?
What are you doing?
How did you get there?
Where were you two hours ago?
What’s the weather like?
Why are you there?
What can you hear?
What’s in front of you?
What’s to your right?
What’s to your left?
What’s behind you?
What’s around your feet?
What’s above your head?

4. Now write for about 8 minutes, describing the scene you just envisioned so clearly. Add dialogue, thoughts, ideas, questions… whatever.

Coincidentally, Angela Stockman’s newsletter arrived this morning and I skimmed “Thinking Differently About Documentation”.

While I’m still feeling the effects of the spiral described above caused by forces other than the spiral described above (I do this to myself, so it must be centrifugal forces), I decided to follow her advice.

This is the week to capture the light!

“holding the obsidian shard” 5/31 #SOL

I’ve been practicing intentional observation over the past few years, or trying to practice, at least. Sometimes this involves looking and noticing. Othertimes it involves listening and noticing. Yet, in teaching as in life, the observing and noticing is rarely enough. My head often spins with an overwhelming amount of information partnered with the deep desire to respond to the observations in ways that promote health and healing. All enactment feels insufficient to the noticing, so I found comfort in listening to Jane Hirschfield’s interview with Ezra Klein in a podcast episode called “The Art of Noticing — and Appreciating — Our Dizzying World”.

In the podcast, she talks about her eight years of Zen practice in a monastery, which now has become her daily practice: welcoming in the unwelcome: waking at the sound of the bell, bathing in cold water, living with grief. To notice, one must observe carefully, and while that seems as obvious as synonyms, I think observing can be more passive while noticing is like taking a note, an internal form of documentation, or an external one of writing.

I wrestled with these words and my own comprehension of them until I came across a research paper, “Toward a Pedagogy for Professional Noticing: Learning through Observation” by Donna Rooney and David Boud. In the paper they rely on the previous work of Mason noting, “observing others performing professional practice, and noticing particular features, can lead to new learning.” The observing comes before noticing; the noticing generates change.

In the podcast, Hirshfield describes poetry as a way of paying attention, of being precise. It requires both observating and noticing — observation and notation. We observe the world and ourselves and the poem becomes the notation. She says, “It’s holding an obsidian shard of being in print.” That line pierced me while listening and brought me back to my life five or so years ago.

All the signs were there and I have always been drawn to processes of healing; my own and those of others. When my son was in his teens, nearly off to university, we visited an interesting shop downtown which carried inscence and various gemstones. I didn’t understand then why but the allure of the black obsidian captured my attention. I bought the shard of black glass, one stone which I’ve kept ever since. It’s near my computer in the classroom. I sometimes reach for it to fiddle when I’m stressed; the smoothness comforts.

I only later read that many believe it contains protective qualities. Apparently, the observable stone is not actually a mineral but glass, igneous rock formed from the lava of a volcano. Eruptions and cooling created this healing shard. And the lesson in poetry transformed to my lesson; hold the obsidian shard, welcome the unwelcome.

“I’m Really Into” 4/31 #SOL

I’m so fortunate to have colleagues who’ve become great friends and teaching partners. They challenge me when I need to be challenged, support me when I need support, and generally nerd out with me on all things pedagogical. I’m really into pedagogy and the writer’s practice right now, so when John Warner offered his online course “Teaching Writing With AI”, I signed up and realized some of my friends and fellow teachers are in the course, too!

We’ve been hanging out in a Google Meet every Saturday morning after breakfast to watch the videos and read some of the articles. We’ve done this for the past three weekends, and inevitably, the conversation meanders to our classroom experience, questions of practice we’ve been contemplating, and discussions around values in education. Tobi would make her usual apologies for taking the conversation in another direction and I’d find the threads of connection back to the course; it’s often all connected and related to student engagement and supporting the learners we have now.

That’s why her brilliant lesson using NPR’s podcast series I’m Really Into resonated with me today. Who doesn’t want to talk about the stuff that they are into?! She created her own slideshow and had students record podcasts like the ones on NPR’s website. She told me that this was inspired by Rebekah O’Dell and her Moving Writer’s material after she subscribed to her substack account.

And then, we found another iteration of the same concept posted this morning by the brilliant Casey Hackett. In a thread on Twitter she shared “I’m Really Into Visual Writing” which is part of her digital literacy unit with destreamed grade 9 and she added the lessons on using alt text inspired by another person on Twitter. Brilliant! I love when the universe brings concentric circles of sharing into these converging collaborations and it feels like destiny that I’ll be hosting a panel discussion with Casey tomorrow afternoon. (I’m seriously nerding out for this one!)

I’m not sure if my energy and enthusiasm came through today, but just in case your are wondering, I am REALLY into this unit and can’t wait to share another iteration of this unit.

The Tattoo 3/31#SOL

The grade 12 students trickled into class, some before the bell, others after; it’s Friday, afterall. I moved about the clusters of desks having brief conversations, talking book choices, asking about sports, or other aspects of life which sometimes float in and around conversations as we gather. Small groups talked, some looked my way, I joined with words, and then separated, they joined with more words, and then focused on something else bringing warmth to the space in murmurations of conversation.

I noticed his tattoo. It looked freshly enscribed on the inside of his left arm descending towards his wrist, dark Roman numbers in Times New Roman on pale youthful skin.

“Your tattoo is so interesting. Can I ask what it means?”

“I just got it for my birthday. It’s still bumpy.” he said smiling and running his fingers delicately along the black letters. “I got it for my birthday. It’s not my birthdate. It’s the date that my parents adopted me. They let me get it for my birthday. I mean, they were reluctant for a long time and I was surprized when they finally said yes, but I love it.”

My mind and heart swelled with the smile on his face clearly demonstrating love for his adoptive family. “That’s incredible.” I paused in admiration holding my gaze on the tattoo. “I love it too, and I think you have a story idea for your memoir here. I mean, why did you choose that font? You’ve inked your skin with significance and chosen words which represent numbers, and that might be useful for a larger metaphor…”.

My enthusiasm for my own ideas had gotten the better of me in that moment, so I stopped and waited for him to talk.

“Wow. Ya. I hadn’t thought of that.” He snort-laughed and then opened his Chromebook. “I’m going to write some of that down. I like that idea.”