The Slices I Did Not Write Today


This morning when I woke up the first time (at 3:15, ugh!) I knew I was going to be tired today. I decided while I waited to fall back to sleep that I would try a different kind of slice today- a list of all the slices I could have written today, just based on me trying to pay close attention to the stories I see in one day, so here goes:

  1. The jarring alarm at 5:15 (I was in a deep sleep then)
  2. The cat on the pillow next to my head
  3. How happy my cat gets when I get out of bed
  4. Purring- does it really not show a cat’s happiness?
  5. My kitchen smells like brownies (how I have a habit of saying “yes”, so last night was baking brownies for the Care Club at school to have a bake sale today- nothing to do with me, I just have a hard time saying”no”)
  6. “Wet” kitchens in Malaysia- explaining how most kitchens in Malaysia are in two sections, so my wet kitchen is behind a door, so smells linger there- for better and worse.
  7. My morning routines- including eating my overnight oatmeal at school
  8. P’s big yawn- you know others are tired too when our team collaborative planning time started with our math coordinator letting out a huge yawn
  9. “Give me fat and salt”- another funny quote Ellen called out when we were talking about her general dislike for sweets other than chocolate (as she ate a Kit Kat)
  10. Learning vs busy- a discussion at collab time about looking for learning and how we know that students are learning
  11. My words bouncing back to me- hearing some of my frequent phrases being used by my students (a reminder that I have to always watch what I say)
  12. S’s survey- during our afterschool activity, Book Love, a student wlaked around asking questions we could only answer yes or no to (one question was “What is your favorite color?” My answer was “yes” and she later remarked that me and the other teacher were the only ones that got that question right- I gave the other teacher the answer)
  13. J’s survey-also during our ASA Jake surveyed people on their favorite all time book- it was fun to see what a few former students picked
  14. Watching the U11 basketball teams play and being told I was the only spectator who was not a family member to only come

Realistically I could have stretched any of these into a slice and there were many other moments that I edited out of my list. It is a good reminder to me that I need to notice more as I try to live a more writerly life. There are many Tuesdays that I sit down sure that I have no idea what to write- what I am really saying is that I did not take note.

Why I Write!


October 18, 2016

#sol- Why I Write!

As you will read in other posts Thursday is the National Day on Writing I have been lucky enough to be part of a Voxer group focused on promoting ways to share our love of writing as educators and Kathleen had us thinking about this day weeks ago as she wrote her own blog post about the day, so it is only natural that I have been thinking about why I write.

I write to…

reflect (to process what I am learning and thinking to make changes, so that I can learn and think some more)

remember (where I am, either physically or mentally, so that I can remember better in the future)

problem solve (things become so much clearer when they are written down)

plan (it is always a good sign when I think that a new project or time period is worthy of a new notebook, even when the old one may not be filled)

organize (I know I benefit from drafting, but boy do I resist it. I may also be the queen of lists)

model ( as a teacher of writers it makes my teaching better if I can speak from first-hand experience as a writer)

goal set (getting it is writing makes it more likely to happen for me)

understand (I seem to write more when I am feeling deeply)

share (I sometimes write specifically for others, but much more often it is just for me)

be a part of a community (one of my best decisions for me as a writer was joining the March Slice of Life Challenge in 2014- I have been inspired by so many writers here)

As I read this over I am thinking about to the winding path that my writing life has taken. I wish that I had some of my childhood writing- I remember some of it vividly. Flash forward to today- I know that this school year I have not been writing as much as I would like to, so I am always grateful for Tuesdays, the one day in the week when I know that I will write for sure. I am happy for the pressure I feel to show up and write at least once a week. I am excited that my friend, Gina, is almost ready to join this group too!

I am going to ask my third graders to share why they write on Thursday and I am curious what they will say.

Write About the Chocolate


October 11, 2016

#sol- Write About the Chocolate

“Does it have to be about teaching? Just write about the chocolate, how it was just what we needed,” my friend (and colleague), Ellen, suggested when I asked for ideas about what to write today.

It’s true. Today is the second day back after a glorious break and as usual we have hit the ground running. We have already worked on reading and writing unit preassessments, a math chackpoint, with the social studies unit test still to go in the first day and a half back. During our planning time just before lunch we found out that the rubric we thought we were to use was not the right one (after Ellen had already eagerly completed most of hers). Ugh- some time “wasted” there.

We took a break for lunch and sat together and chatted, joined by two other teachers on our team. As Ellen ate a disappointing canteen meal I crunched my way through an endless salad. We laughed about the adjustment after break to eating on a schedule again and always feeling hungry.

As we finished up, Ellen said, “Well, what I really need to finish this meal is just a little bit of chocolate,” and away I ran. I scurried into my classroom, opened the closet and raided the “emergency drawer”. I ran back with this:


Jamie asked, “Do you have a magic closet in there?” I laughed, but do appreciate the magic of a little something sweet at just the right time.

As we savored a square each we noticed the generous size of the portion, the slight saltiness enhancing the rich chocolate. In spite of our contentment, before too long we were passing it around for a second square each-ahhh! Luckily we knew when to quit- and we left the last two squares behind ( I later passed these on to a colleague who was not eating with us- turns out he had just been wishing he had some chocolate). As our lunch break was drawing to a close we were comparing notes about what our afternoon looked like. I suddenly remembered it was Tuesday, so my day to slice and wondered aloud what I could slice about, which is where the opening line for this post came from. Sometimes a bit of chocolate is just what I need, for writing and to get me through the day and chocolate shared with friends is even sweeter!

October Break, I Love You!


October Break, I Love You!

October 4, 2016

True confession- I am writing this Sunday night (I never write ahead!).

Tomorrow morning I will not be at school- instead, I will be beginning a 4-day trip to Gili Meno, a tiny island off of Lombok, Indonesia. It is a small, underdeveloped paradise and I am looking forward to some relaxing time reading. This year has been super busy and the stress of visa complications have not helped. Last week we had our three-way conferences and had a day and a half of ISA testing- a break is just what I need. October break is one of the benefits of teaching at an international school, that I know many of you do not have. I am sorry- it really is the right thing at the right time.

To learn a little more about my escape, you can check out this link. My bag is packed and I am ready for my early morning alarm.

Building Bridges


#sol- Building Bridges

September 27, 2016

Today was the first of two days for first semester parent-teacher conference. I know we are really lucky to have two full days for this! Our school made the decision to include students this year (yahoo!) and conferences were about two weeks earlier than usual, so there was a bit of frenzied preparation to get this all to be a positive reporting experience.

Today I had 14 conferences scheduled, so a busy day indeed. Tonight I am tired, but so very happy. Today was truly a learning celebration. It was great to see our students sharing their growth and goals with their parents. The third graders had a clear understanding of their strengths and needs as they talked their parents through their lives in third grade. Students excitedly shared their stories, their reading life, their progress in math. I saw more than one parent wipe away a stray tear of pride. It was humbling to watch students translate for parents. It was fun to share stories of successes and hear tales of how learning is carried over at home. Some of the students receive direct support from our EAL coteacher and the look of awe from the students when she shared thinking prompts for their parents in their home language was moving. We are asking all of our students to do so much as learners and our EAL students have the extra challenge of doing this all in a language they do not speak at home. While preparing for conferences is a lot of work and the days are long I appreciate this opportunity to help build bridges with families. It is important to have the time for parents to share in their child’s schooling and opportunities like this make this happen.

Tomorrow I will finish up this round of conferences but I know that the bridges we built today will benefit our learning community throughout the rest of the year and beyond.

The Power of Read Alouds


The Power of Read Alouds

#sol- September 20, 2016

I prepared myself for all the emotion of reading the last chapter of Stone Fox. “I have read the book before, even read it to last year’s class, ” I told myself. “I don’t need to cry this time. I know what is going to happen. I can brace myself for the shock,” I tried to convince myself. There I sat with my class of third graders gathered around me. There was an audible gasp when it came to the line where Searchlight’s heart burst. The buzz started, “You mean she died?” a few asked.  “Is that real, did she really die?” another voice called out. And then it happened, I could feel the hot tears brighten my eyes and seep out the edges. “Are you crying?” a small voice asked. “Look, she is crying,” two students in the back were shocked. Somehow I got through the rest of the chapter after tearing up a few more times. After a minute for us all to recuperate a bit we began to reflect.

Somehow I got through the rest of the chapter after tearing up a few more times. After a minute for us all to recuperate a bit we began to reflect. As we discussed author’s purpose we wondered why the author had the story end this way. The students recalled that the book had been based on a true story the author had been told, so we reread the author’s note. “Things don’t always turn out how you expected,” one wise student shared. “Maybe the author knew that we are used to happy endings and he wanted us to know that not every ending is happy,” another student added. “He wanted to show how kind people can be,” another student shared.

I love to read aloud with my students and I choose stories run the gamut of silly to serious. I do not always take the time to have them share as much of their thinking as we do today, but it was impressive to hear how in the space of a few weeks these third graders have grown as learners. Reading their reflections afterward about the kind of readers they are and the kind of readers they want to be made me glad that we are building our community of readers day by day. We closed the day, later with The Not So Quiet Library and here we shared the laughs. A different feeling book, but building our reading community book by book.

Thank you, authors!




#sol September 13, 2016

Yesterday I had the day off (yes, another holiday in Malaysia), so I scurried off to pick up some groceries. When deciding where to live two years ago I planned to be car free. I had just come from years in Berlin, where not having a car was easy as the public transport was so excellent. Coming here everyone insisted, “You’ll change your mind.” “It’s impossible to live without a car in KL.” Truthfully the thought of me driving on the other side of the road with all of the traffic jams here and motorcyclists dashing aboout helped make me decide that me not driving was better for my sanity and everyone else’s safety. After being in the city for a few days and seeing the frequent traffic woes I knew that driving in that traffic would stress me out too much!

I decided I would live near public transport and amenities I wanted. I chose my apartment because it was not right in the heart of the city, but was still close by. There is  a bus stop right out front and a light rail line stop within walking distance. Without traffic, it would be only a 15-minute drive to school (taxis are cheap and plentiful, so that would be my car choice when public transport was not possible). It was also right next to a small mall with a grocery store, Starbucks, a hair dresser and more- the fact that several of my colleagues were also going to live there was a bit of a bonus too. There was a small wooded lot between the apartment and the mall, so in spite of being on a busy road, it seemed quiet enough.

Flash forward- they are building an overpass right between my building and the mall. It will ease the crazy traffic there (maybe), but in the meantime it is a big construction site. I love being able to walk to get things done, but yesterday was hard.


As I exit the apartment complex there is this “walkway”. The frequent rains flood it, but some kind soul laid a path yesterday. Without groceries, I made the leaps, with groceries I ended up muddy and wet.



Safety issues?



This area used to be a deserted lot with a few trees.



The front building is where I live. The open area between the two apartment buildings is where the pool is. 



The continuation of my “path”. 


According to the information in my apartment building this project has another two years to go. I am hopeful that they will keep in mind that there are many of us in the neighborhood who walk to and from the mall, but here pedestrians are not so common, so I am afraid it may get worse before it gets better.

I like where I live and am not likely to make a move, but yesterday made it hard to believe that living next door to the grocery store did not necessarily mean that i could run out to the store on a whim. My car free plan is still in place, but…