Saturday, September 8, 2012

Great Conversations - Student Growth!

     What a great day Thursday! I don't know how often you can say that about a day as an educator where you had a WHOLE day meeting about RtI, but through our discussions I'm hopeful that we will bring authenticity to the whole data analysis thing and our problem solving process.

Imagine a Day     It makes me think about the book Imagine a Day by Sarah L. Thomson. The description reads..."Imagine a day when your swing swings you higher than the highest treetops. Imagine a day when you can ride your bike up a path of falling leaves into the very tree they are falling from. Imagine a day when you release a handful of blue balloons into a cloudy, gray sky to create a postcard-perfect day. Imagine a day when the ordinary becomes the extraordinary...a day when anything is possible." This is what we do for kids when we collaborate and keep them at the forefront of our conversations! Anything is possible - imagine a day like that!

     As a team we talked about how we want to bring more formative assessment data to these meetings. And I loved it that some of us stopped the meeting and said, "Wait, what does that look like?" I'm so glad we clarified this. We talked about how it means we want to bring authentic student work (or analysis of it) to the table. It's by looking at this work and our conversations with students through our conferring that we will impact student growth scores. If we really want to see student growth, we need to focus on these specific reading, writing, and mathematical behaviors that we identify along with the students to move them forward, not merely selecting a goal from the list of skills generated from a writ score from a MAP test. Do we use that to help guide our instruction and narrow our goal? Yes. But is that a "goal" for a student. No. There's so much more to setting goals. I guess I'm excited that the goal setting we do with students in the classroom, as my dear friend Ann Marie Corgill talks about "Growing Readers..." and "Growing Writers...", will now become part of our core conversations in these meetings. That's how we'll see student growth - just imagine!







Saturday, March 31, 2012

Slice of Life #31 - I Feel Unwriterly Today



"Unwritten"
by
Natasha Bedingfield

I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I'm undefined
I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Oh, oh, oh

I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
We've been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can't live that way

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten


 
Today I just didn't feel "writerly." I thought what a horrible way to end this beautiful challenge. It shouldn't be this way I thought. I should feel more "writerly" shouldn't I??? I began to think I'm just not pushing myself enough and asked, "Am I just phoning it in?" Then I heard this song as I was running today and and I ran a bit harder, it summed up how I was feeling. All I can see sometimes is that blank page, I need to trust that if I "open the window" and "feel the rain,"  "drench myself in words unspoken" ideas and words will come. Some days they'll be good, but most days it will be dribble.

I also read some quotes about writer's block in a link posted yesterday at Merely Day By Day by Cathy Mere that were very encouraging!

I have learned that when I write from the gut I think it's most powerful and moving. What I've also learned is that even when my writing is dribble, there is some nugget of truth in about me and when you're part of a writing community they appreciate it because they get to know you a little better. They see past the yuck and mine it for the nugget. It makes it a safe place to "have a go" at this writing thing because as we know the only way to get better is to write. My favorite quote is below. It was under the heading, "Cope with Badness."

"We can't be as good as we'd want to, so the question then becomes, how do we cope with our own badness?"  by Nick Hornby

 
That's how I feel today.

I've also been struggling with where to go from here. I know I want to keep up with Tuesday slices, but I can't keep up more than one blog. My original intention was for this blog, "Refining Our Craft" to be reflections of our teaching lives, but I don't think it's stretch to include writing in with the "Craft." After all, I strongly believe that to be good writing teachers we need to be writer's, so I feel I will be doing just that.
I'm also excited about April being poetry month! And have already included My Juicy Little Universe by Heidi Mordhorst and No Water River by Renee LaTulippe on my blog roll to see what it's all about. I already had subscribed to The Poem Farm by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and would highly recommend it!I'm excited to continue refining my craft of writing poetry - I know I have a long way to go, but so far it's been fun!

It has been a pleasure and a priviledge joining all of you in this challenge. I have learned and been inspired by you and find your writing and your words filter into my thoughts through out my days. The beauty of your language and craft have become a part of me - know you've changed me for the better! We'll catch up on Tuesdays or more!

I did also remember a quote that talked about reflecting on your writing is not writing, so I had a go at squeezing out a poem, like Elsie talked about in her slice yesterday at elsie tries writing, in honor of Poetry Friday!


Slice

So
comes
loveless
endings



                             
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Friday, March 30, 2012

Slice of Life #30 - IRC Reflections

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Illinois Reading Conference in Springfield, Illinois. We were lucky to be able to go as a team, all the literacy coaches in our district (except one who is on maternity leave - we missed her!). We had the privilege of listening to so many amazing authors and educators and here are some of my take aways...

1.  The first session I went to was Patricia MacLachlan speaking about how she is inspired as a writer. She told the behind the scenes stories from where her books came. I have to tell you that she is one great speaker. She's hilarious and sassy! My favorite book has always been All the Places to Love! I'm looking forward to reading Kindred Souls, as she told about how this story came from her own grandfather and the sod house he had built and has strong connections for her growing up on the prairie in Cheyenne Wyoming. It was just a great reminder and inspiring to see how you can weave together fiction stories based on your own life.

2. This may seem small, but it's a nuance about instruction. We were at Harvey Daniels presentation and he was sharing a video and talking with students about "What does it look like" when we are collaborating. In the video the teacher, Debbie King, was having her students help her create a chart for this. The students began by saying the typical things, "We listen." There were a few other responses then I saw her push them to be more specific. She said, "What do you do when you're listening?" They began then to share things like, "turn your head towards the person." It taught me to get very specific when listing behaviors, otherwise I don't think these charts are really helpful to students.

3. Another amazing author/educator/consultant we heard was Ann Grall Reichel! She has done amazing work in science and shares that thinking in her book, "Expect More:  Children Can Do Remarkable Things." But now she has been expanding her work to social studies also. My biggest take away is the power of visual literacy and using art, along with multiple sources, specifically complex texts and original sources to dig deeper into time period in history. She showed this picture below and had us make inferences. Then suggested looking to texts to confirm or revise our thinking.

                                           

3. We were also listening to Seymour Simon share about his amazing nonfiction or "real books" as he likes to call them, with the amazing pictures and powerful comparisons. I realized that making comparison, which I've been finding that students, even young students, are very capable of, really help a reader understand your ideas. He talks about how a blue whale's tongue is the size of a baby elephant! Wow! But what really struck me about his presentation was when he talked about how he was inspired to become an author. He talked about how in second grade his teacher took his papers for his story and stapled them together and they all (the class) had to listen to him. It was this power of audience that inspired him to tell stories - people listened! We've all been learning the power of audience this month too!

4. After seeing Chris Tovani, I couldn't help but go up to her and tell her that I felt like I was in church. I just wanted to keep saying, "Amen, sister!" She spoke so powerfully about the importance of teaching students strategies all the way through high school and not just for strategies sake, but as a way for them to unlock meaning for them with a text, there's a purpose in them. They seem to forget this in high school. What struck me when she was talking though, was how she mentioned that we are always thinking when we're reading, but we are either thinking about the text or we are thinking about something else. It was the something else that I'm not sure if I've talked enough about with students. For us it could be our shopping list, what we're making for dinner, emails we need to send, etc. For our students it could be playing outside, texting friends, what sport practice they have after school, essentially daydreaming. That's what we want students to notice and listen to, the voice that's in their head and realize if it is about the text or something else. And if it's something else that means they need to do something to get back on track.

There was so much more, but those were some of the highlights. I have to say though, that the best part of the conference was being able to share and discuss new learning with my colleagues. We never have enough time for this!

Just for kicks here's a quote about Lincoln by Stephen Douglas, because you couldn't help but be in awe of this amazing leader and lover of books as you were there! This quote I think shows the power of the story:


"Everyone of his stories seems like a whack across my back...Nothing else - not any of his arguments or any of his replies to my questions - disturbs me. But when he begins to tell a story, I feel that I am to be overmatched."                             

                                                          Stephen A. Douglas about Abraham Lincoln




                             
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Slice of Life # 29 - Biggest Loser

Those who read my post about figuring out the statement, "Just put it in a cloud" or anyone figuring out technology in general will appreciate this story...

A few days before spring break I get a note from our tech person, directly to me, saying that there is a new guideline and that everyone's "P-Drive," our network storage, should be less than 2 GB. It's embarrasing, I didn't even know for sure what GB stood for at that moment. I could have guessed, but have been telling the story saying the letters "G" and "B". Well...I was at 19 GB!!! Included in his note is that he has let the librarian at my home school know so she can help me if I need it.

To which I replied, I'm sure our dear librarian has better things to do than sit and watch me delete and transfer files! And that I'll get on it. I'm thinking to myself they could have let me know a few GB's ago, but whatever. I decided now I really gotta figure out this cloud thing and I just heard about "dropbox," I guess it's a file cabinet in a cloud and now in someone else's post I read about "LiveBinders" both are free - I think. But just as a back-up I decided to go ahead and get one of those external hard drives. Not excited that this will now be a spring break project - Boo!

O.K...Then, the day before spring an email goes to "All Staff" from our tech guy, declaring the new 2 GB guidelines and attached is a picture of how much EVERYONE has saved in our "P Drives" and if you're over 2 GB you have to take care of it by May or it will be deleted. Wait for it...there's a BIG RED ARROW pointing to the GB column and guess who is at the top - ME, at 19 GB and the next person with something like 6 GB. GREAT! How embarrassing!

I "Replied All," to the whole staff and here is the email dialogue that resulted - Too funny!


Nice - way to call me out, being first on the list and all!!! I'm working on it, I'm working on it! FYI I have lots of videos for the district. I did just buy an external hard drive and I'm saving things to a cloud with Drop Box! Oh brother!

Have a great spring break everyone!

Jen

(From the gifted resource teacher) Shouldn't there be some allowances for seniority or the gifted teachers?!?

(From the P.E. teachers) We are willing to sell some of our GBs for a fair asking price...

So is this the black market for GBs. Hey I might get in on the bidding for that, but looking at the data I will have to hit up some other less than 1%ers - Anyone, anyone? (Ha Ha) I don't think (our tech guy) will go for that :(

Jen

(From our Tech guy) Sorry Jen, didn't think about that!

Yeah - big red arrow right to me! AND leave it to (another teacher) to be right at 2 GB! O.K. - I'm not bitter or anything... ;)

Jen

(From our sweet librarian) Jen, let me know if I can help.
Consider it an honor to have been number one out of the entire building.  :) 

(Again - sweet librarian) That's a positive way to look at it!

Here's another way of thinking, Jen, though the district wouldn't ever acknowledge this.  Add up all the schools + all the teachers + all the students you have worked with directly and indirectly as a literacy coach + all the meetings you've attended + all the personal hours you've spent in the past few years reading professional books, articles, reports, and journals,etc.  Divide your GB's by that number... I bet your number would look much better then!!!!

OR NEW BIGGEST LOSER CONTEST! Jen B, Jessica, Dan, Sarah, Jim, Dawn and I compete to see who can reduce space on our P: drives the quickest!  (Our tech guys) can be our coach. "Delete, delete, copy, move!  Come on, give me four more deletes before you add any more pictures!"  "Do you really need that document?  Can't you create one with less bytes?"


I guess we were getting a little punchy right before spring break and needed a little email banter.

Good news: I'm at 0 GB. I think I won at least one of the BIGGEST LOSER contests.

Bad news:  It's all on and external hard drive and my beautiful files kind of got messed up a bit. So more organization required and still have to figure out the drop box thing, but I can tell you...THAT won't be happening over spring break!!!




                             
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Slice of Life #28 - My Girl

I often think about the importance of being known, knowing someone better than anyone else. I had started this post early in the challenge and thought it appropriate to finish it with the commencement of her birthday celebration.

So shy
but if you only knew...
So shy
out and about
even with grandpa and grandma,
so reserved,
BUT at home,
in her element,
she's a mad woman.
She would ride,
at 22 months,
a pink, stuffed, rocking unicorn,
mouth wide open,
huffing and puffing,
in and out,
hair gone wild
She is anything but reserved -
She's a wild woman!
She's my girl ~

Side note:  As I tucked her in the night of her birthday party, she asks, "Mom, did you look under the books on you night table?" Below is what I found. Soooo sweet!

Love you forever


I love you forever, now (no) mater whoat

Another side note - Here's a recent quote after measuring her height in the kitchen pantry, where we record their growth, she says..."That's the tallest I've ever been!" Too cute! Just had to share...




                             
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Slice of Life # 27 - Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!





We cheered!



  We made books.
(I couldn't help it. You know, the teacher in me and
when I first mentioned it, one little girls face was crest fallen, but
I mentioned coloring and stamp-a-story! That worked!)


We made pizza and we ate pizza.
(How did I miss taking a picture of making the pizza???)



We cheered some more!



We ate cake...




and opened presents.



We did nails...




and a craft.




Now I am waiting out 5 girls to fall asleep. Three down
two to go! Come on Smurfs lull them to sleep!

Favorite quote of the night:  "This is the best sleepover birthday party ever!"

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!




                             
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Monday, March 26, 2012

Slice of Life #26 - What If?

I love eavesdropping on my kids, this is what I heard today while they were eating a snack...

"If you're half dog and half human, then when you eat chocolate, the chocolate goes to the human side."

Oh to be a kid again! I imagine those who write sci fi live in this kind of world more often, more than me anyway. You do see here how her schema of chocolate being dangerous for dogs coming into play! When probed a bit my daughter smirked about the comment and admitted she was eating like a dog and that made her think of it. Too funny. I loved doing that as a kid. When do we stop putting bowls on the floor to act like a cat or a dog? When did play become work?

Bottom line: It gives me perspective! Perspective to cherrish each moment and play more!




                             
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Slice of Life #25 - 20,000 Leagues Up the Stairs

I think my husband is trying to give me nightmares. I fell asleep with the kids and came to bed and my husband woke up only to tell me a horror story. He starts...

"I saw the biggest bug as I was walking upstairs, on the yellow wall. It was some kind of beetle. As I walked up it moved and looked at me. I saw the little tissue in my hand and knew this wasn't going to do it.The bug was bigger than the tissue, which was one inch by one inch, so I went back down stairs for three paper towels. As I approached, it looked at me again and dodged back and forth, like a football linebacker dodges right, faints left. So I snatched it up in the towels and wrapped it up. I was sure not to squeeze tight because I didn't want to feel it crunch between my fingers. I knew I couldn't put it in the garbage can and I knew I didn't want to open the paper towels to put it in the toilet, so I threw it out the window, paper towels and all."

I asked him, "Which window?"

"The front one." He replied.

"Ohhhh, I would have had the window above the t.v. ready and open."

"I didn't think that far ahead." He answered. "I think when a bug is big enough to be aware of you it's a little too personal"

Always the educator and he just doesn't know it, he proceeds to explain that the reason we are so creeped out by bugs is because of we are xenophobic by nature. We can't relate to bugs in the same way we do other creatures. Even a wolf, though scary, can be cute. It has fur or hair like us, eyes and a mouth that you can see. You can't see a bugs eyes. It's mouth isn't even really a mouth and it's skeleton is on the outsite! The monsters of old used to be humanized like werewolves, these days they're more like aliens. Which makes them scarier. Random fact:  Did you know the at the nerve endings in our skin are designed to feel a bug crawling across rather than something like a leaf. We're hardwired to be aware of bugs!

Had to share that story, because it majorly creeped me out! Maybe this way I won't have nightmares?!?




                             
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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Slice of Life #24 - Family Sunsets



Sitting on the shore
kids throwing rocks
dog smiling
sun inching towards the horizon
shimmering
creating a path as if we could
walk on water
can't these moments last
forever?



                             
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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Slice of Life #22 - Technology Enhanced Discussions

I feel like there's so much to learn with technology and just when I think I'm getting caught up there's a surge forward and I'm behind again. Lately I've been rather proud of myself though. I keep hearing talk of "just put it in a cloud." I had no idea what that meant and I have to say I don't fully understand how it works, but it is a beautiful thing!

I was first introduced to the concept of a cloud and google docs by colleague and fellow slicer, who is very tech savvy. It was amazing how we could collorate on a document simultaneously, with out having to save or send. It was liberating!

Recently, our coaching team has been been retooling to become instructional coaches and have been doing LOTS of reading of professional math books. My favorite series is the Young Mathematicians by Fosnot and Dolk. We knew we weren't doing the books justice with our discussions, we kept running out to time. So I thought we could use a google doc to get the conversation going and then when we get together we could discuss our lingering questions. I set up the document, shared it with the other coaches and we each took a chapter to develop questions and picked a color to personalize our posts. It has been awesome to see the conversations unfold right before our eyes. This format seems to allow for a deeper level of participation. I think I actually participate more than just in a live conversation. I can choose to add my thoughts or ask more questions about any of the lines of thinking that have developed.

I certainly don't think anything can replace a good conversation face to face, but technology sure does enhance and support these efforts!


    

                             
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Slice of Life #21 - Playing with Fiction - Final Day

Well I wrapped it up! I have to say my husband and I really did this together. He'd throw out an idea, I would write it and then build on it. It was a neat back and forth collaboration. We are a good team.

Reflecting back on the process, I had wanted to share my thinking a bit more, but it would have given away the mystery. So with that in mind I share some of my reflections at the end.

Just a reminder that each color represents what I wrote on different days, so the black at the bottom is new - just fyi. :)

    As morning came, no one roamed the streets of the tiny subdivision overlooking the lake, but someone was watching. The leaves populated the streets with dancing and leaping, they seemed not to have a care in the world, this was not so for the hidden resident of 252 Pleasant Drive. You see, he took care of everyone, watched over everyone. You would think he would learn, but the desire to wander overcame him and he ventured out through the garden, passed the mailboxes and down the hill. She was leaving and needed an escort. He sat with her until her bus came and then trotted home.
     He knew the man's eyes were on him, following him, daring him to leave the yard again. For now, he would lay low and wait. Eventually the man would have to go to work and that he did. Then Jack could mosey down to the water's edge and wait for the woman. It took her longer now, to walk from the house to the shore. So when he heard the door open he would run to greet her and walk with her to the benches, where the grass meets the sand. His days began and ended with her. At night the sun would inch down behind the horizon, the sky would turn from blue, to pink, to purple, and then to a deep, dark Maxfield Parrish blue. As the colors darkened the sky, it's as if an eyelid came down to signal the closing of the day. The woman would feed the geese and pet him. He could feel energy flow to her, could sense her get stronger, see a satisfied smile come over her face as she stands to return to her haven. Jack would then continue on his way. Greeting all those who he encountered, except the man, the man with crossed arms, always with the crossed arms. He was to be avoided. There was no helping him, or was there?
     Jack has always been a loyal dog, like dogs are, but he's had many masters over the years. He's spent his days shepherding and retrieving, honing his skill for care taking. For now his home is 252 Pleasant Drive and the family that resides there thinks he's just theirs. They know Jack's penchant for roaming the neighborhood, but don't fully realize his entire responsibilities.

     Charlotte's busy in the kitchen as she walks past the window, the for sale sign grates on her mind. She considers making toast and marmalade, but as the room begins to be fill with an orange glow, she decides to join Jack down by the lake to watch the sunset. Stepping outside, the quiet of the evening is almost disturbing. She remembers how the sound of children playing use to fill the air. Jack is there as expected, like clockwork. She hears his feet squish in the riparian path, as they get closer to the lake. Jack and the setting sun always make her feel warm and content.

     Today Jack continues with his usual routine. First, the bus stop to make sure the girl gets off to school safely, then he visits the woman, Charlotte, who feeds the geese down by the lake and then home. He intends to pass the man's house, but he can't -- the man is standing on the sidewalk out front, barring his way with a broomstick. He glares menacingly, while the chattering of the squirrels agitates his nerves, escalating his rage towards the wayward offending dog, intruding on his domain. Jack chuffs annoyingly at the man, who like a tiger chuffs back in his own belligerent way. Jack narrowly escapes while the man goes off to call animal control. 

     Today, Jack again continues with his usual routine. The day is coming to a close and it's time to comfort and offer Charlotte support while she finds her way. As Jack heads towards the lake, he passes the man's house, crossing on the other side of the street. However, when he gets to the lake, there's an unexpected visitor. The man is at the shore too, chasing the neighborhood geese away from the beach. The neighbors appreciate his efforts. No one likes to step in goose poop. He really is a good neighbor, he just thinks everyone should follow the rules. "If only that family at 252 Pleasant Drive would keep their dog locked up!"  The man often thinks.
     Jack pauses and contemplates returning home, but he sees Charlotte looking for him out the kitchen window. He can't let her down. Reluctantly, he takes steps towards the house, but sees the broomstick and has an uneasy feeling. The broomstick seems to loom larger in his mind and seems to wave faster with the incessant drone of the squirrels fueling the man's energy towards removing the geese, until he spots the dog out of the corner of his eye. Slowly he turns, inch by inch, step by step he directs his attention towards the trespassing canine. Just as he is about to corner the dog in the yard, their battle is interrupted by the sound of screams and frantic splashing, emanating from the cold water where no one should be this time of year. Charlotte gestures for them to help. The man drops the broom and moves as quickly as his weak legs can carry him towards the water. He doesn't notice the cold as he enters. He looks for the girl who he has only caught a glimpse of...where can she be? There! But it's as if he's moving in slow motion. When he finally does reach her, the girl from the bus stop, he doesn't have the strength to save her despite his best efforts. He tries again, but it's futile. Sinking to his knees he pulls, but muck at the bottom of the lake sucks him down -- no progress. Jack leaps into the water disregarding his feelings for the man and pulls the girl, helping the man, who for the first time in years doesn't feel alone. Whether his new found strength is in him or is a result of Jack's help, it doesn't matter because now they pull the girl to safety. Drenched and out of breath both heroes acknowledge one another with a look and embrace. "We did it!" The man says catching his breath. "You're a good dog, good dog."
     Everything is quiet. The girl is safe, wrapped in the man's jacket. Jack has lost an opponent and the man has gained a friend. Meanwhile Charlotte, seeing this new bond, remembers the love of family and is instantaneously home, at last.

So...Wow! What a challenge this was. I had started off thinking Jack would be like a ghost or more like an angel dog, but then I got the idea from some of you to make the woman a ghost. I had decided to have the three threads of the story be Jack - the helper dog - who helps ghosts and real people, Charlotte - the ghost woman who wasn't quite ready to move on and finally the man who had obvious issues. In my head he had experience various tragedies in his life to make him so crabby, but it got tricky to work those in. So I tried to make his character complex in that he wasn't all bad, just a bit rigid. He really was a good/helpful guy. Also, some of this was inspired recently when I was down in Springfield for a literacy conference and went on a "Ghost Walk" through Lincoln's neighborhood, by his house.

The dog is based on a dog in our neighborhood, Jack, who does roam the neighborhood and is friendly. Once he even came into our house, stole my dogs bone and took off. He also has been known to follow other families on their trick or treating around the neighborhood. He cracks me up! Charlotte is also based on a neighbor who recently passed away. We always pass her house as we head down to the lake to play at the beach or watch the sunset and we miss her!  Just thought you would like to know where the ideas came from.
    

    

                             
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Slice of Life #20 - Playing with Fiction Day 5

Added some more plot today. Really trying to move the story forward. I do have an idea for a climax, but trying to figure out how to get there. I don't think I'm doing as much weaving of the different story lines, like my husband suggested, but they're moving forward.

Just a reminder that each color represents what I wrote on different days, so the black at the bottom is new - just fyi. :)

    As morning came, no one roamed the streets of the tiny subdivision overlooking the lake, but someone was watching. The leaves populated the streets with dancing and leaping, they seemed not to have a care in the world, this was not so for the hidden resident of 252 Pleasant Drive. You see, he took care of everyone, watched over everyone. You would think he would learn, but the desire to wander over came him and he ventured out through the garden, passed the mailboxes and down the hill. She was leaving and needed an escort. He sat with her until her bus came and then trotted home. He knew the man's eyes were on him, following him, daring him to leave the yard again. For now, he would lay low and wait. Eventually the man would have to go to work and that he did. Then Jack could mosey down to the water's edge and wait for the woman. It took her longer now, to walk from the house to the shore. So when he heard the door open he would run to greet her and walk with her to the benches, where the grass meets the sand. His days began and ended with her. At night the sun would inch down behind the horizon, the sky would turn from blue, to pink, to purple, and then to a deep, dark blue. As the colors darkened the sky, it's as if an eyelid came down to signal the closing of the day. The woman would feed the geese and pet him. He could feel energy flow to her, could sense her get stronger, see a satisfied smile come over her face as she stands to return to her haven. Jack would then continue on his way. Greeting all those who he encountered, except the man, the man with crossed arms, always with the crossed arms. He was to be avoided. There was no helping him, or was there?
     Jack has always been a loyal dog, like dogs are, but he's had many masters through time. He's spent his days shepherding and retrieving, honing his skill for care taking. For now his home is 252 Pleasant Drive and the family that resides there thinks he's just theirs. They know Jack's penchant for roaming the neighborhood, but don't fully realize his entire responsibilities.

     Charlotte's busy in the kitchen as she walks past the window, the for sale sign grates on her mind. She considers making toast and marmalade, but as the room begins to be fill with an orange glow, she decides to join Jack down by the lake to watch the sunset. Stepping outside, the quiet of the evening is almost disturbing. She remembers how the sound of children playing use to fill the air. Jack is there as expected, like clockwork. She hears his feet squish in the riparian path, as they get closer to the lake. Jack and the setting sun always make her feel warm and content.

     Today Jack continues with his usual routine. First, the bus stop to make sure the girl gets off to school safely, then he visits the woman, Charlotte, who feeds the geese down by the lake and then home. He intentionally passes the man's house, but he can't -- the man is standing on the sidewalk out front, barring his way with a broomstick. He glares menacingly, while the chattering of the squirrels agitates his nerves, escalating his rage towards the wayward offending dog, intruding on his domain. Jack chuffs annoyingly at the man, who like a tiger chuffs back in his own belligerent way. Jack narrowly escapes while the man goes off to call animal control.

    

    

                             
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Slice of Life # 19 - Playing with Fiction Day 4

Today what is new is added in black. I continued to develop characters.

     As morning came, no one roamed the streets of the tiny subdivision overlooking the lake, but someone was watching. The leaves populated the streets with dancing and leaping, they seemed not to have a care in the world, this was not so for the hidden resident of 252 Pleasant Drive. You see, he took care of everyone, watched over everyone. You would think he would learn, but the desire to wander over came him and he ventured out through the garden, passed the mailboxes and down the hill. She was leaving and needed an escort. He sat with her until her bus came and then trotted home. He knew the man's eyes were on him, following him, daring him to leave the yard again. For now, he would lay low and wait. Eventually the man would have to go to work and that he did. Then Jack could mosey down to the water's edge and wait for the woman. It took her longer now, to walk from the house to the shore. So when he heard the door open he would run to greet her and walk with her to the benches, where the grass meets the sand. His days began and ended with her. At night the sun would inch down behind the horizon, the sky would turn from blue, to pink, to purple, and then to a deep, dark blue. As the colors darkened the sky, it's as if an eyelid came down to signal the closing of the day. The woman would feed the geese and pet him. He could feel energy flow to her, could sense her get stronger, see a satisfied smile come over her face as she stands to return to her haven. Jack would then continue on his way. Greeting all those who he encountered, except the man, the man with crossed arms, always with the crossed arms. He was to be avoided. There was no helping him, or was there?
     Jack has always been a loyal dog, like dogs are, but he's had many masters through time. He's spent his days shepherding and retrieving, honing his skill for care taking. For now his home is 252 Pleasant Drive and the family that resides there thinks he's just theirs. They know Jack's penchant for roaming the neighborhood, but don't fully realize full responsibilities.

     Charlotte's busy in the kitchen as she walk past the window the for sale sign grates on her mind. She considers making toast and marmalade, but as room begins to be fill with an orange glow, she decides to join Jack down by the lake to watch the sunset. Stepping outside, the quiet of the evening is almost disturbing. She remembers how the sound of children playing use to fill the air. Jack is there as expected, like clockwork. She hears his feet squish in the riparian path, as they get closer to the lake. Jack and the setting sun always make her feel warm and content.





                             
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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Slice of Life #18 - Playing with Fiction Day 3

Wow! What a great writing community! Your questions have really helped my thinking process. My husband has been helpful too, because I've really been trying to think where exactly do I want to go with this and I'm not sure. He suggested that I do need to have an ending in mind and how Asimov writes his stories is that he has three strands. Each one is a protagonist or a group and they weave in and out of each other through out the plot line coming to some kind of resolve. Most people, he says, think of two opposing forces in a story and it can be somewhat flat, but when you have three chords you never know how it's going to end up. So I've decided I need to take some time to develop these chords (characters/groups), possibly with a character sketch??? We'll see...here I go.

As morning came, no one roamed the streets of the tiny subdivision overlooking the lake, but someone was watching. The leaves populated the streets with dancing and leaping, they seemed not to have a care in the world, this was not so for the hidden resident of 252 Pleasant Drive. You see, he took care of everyone, watched over everyone. You would think he would learn, but the desire to wander over came him and he ventured out through the garden, passed the mailboxes and down the hill. She was leaving and needed an escort. He sat with her until her bus came and then trotted home. He knew the man's eyes were on him, following him, daring him to leave the yard again. For now, he would lay low and wait. Eventually the man would have to go to work and that he did. Then Jack could mosey down to the water's edge and wait for the woman. It took her longer now, to walk from the house to the shore. So when he heard the door open he would run to greet her and walk with her to the benches, where the grass meets the sand. His days began and ended with her. At night the sun would inch down behind the horizon, the sky would turn from blue, to pink, to purple, and then to a deep, dark blue. As the colors darkened the sky, it's as if an eyelid came down to signal the closing of the day. The woman would feed the geese and pet him. He could feel energy flow to her, could sense her get stronger, see a satisfied smile come over her face as she stands to return to her haven. Jack would then continue on his way. Greeting all those who he encountered, except the man, the man with crossed arms, always with the crossed arms. He was to be avoided. There was no helping him, or was there?

Jack has always been a loyal dog, like dogs are, but he's had many masters through time. He's spent his days shepherding and retrieving, honing his skill for care taking. For now his home is 252 Pleasant Drive and the family that resides there thinks he's just theirs. They know Jack's penchant for roaming the neighborhood, but don't fully realize full responsibilities.

I didn't get as much written as I had hoped. I need to let things stew a bit!



                             
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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Slice of Life #17 - Playing with Fiction: Day 2

As morning came, no one roamed the streets of the tiny subdivision overlooking the lake, but someone was watching. The leaves populated the streets with dancing and leaping, they seemed not to have a care in the world, this was not so for the hidden resident of 252 Pleasant Drive(#1) You see, he took care of everyone, watched over everyone. You would think he would learn, but the desire to wander over came him and he ventured out through the garden, passed the mailboxes and down the hill. She was leaving and needed an escort. He sat with her until her bus came and then trotted home. He knew the man's eyes were on him, following him, daring him to leave the yard again. For now, he would lay low and wait. Eventually the man would have to go to work and that he did. Then Jack could mosey down to the water's edge and wait for the woman. It took her longer now, to walk from the house to the shore. So when he heard the door open he would run to greet her and walk with her to the benches, where the grass meets the sand. His days began and ended with her. At night the sun would inch down behind the horizon, the sky would turn from blue, to pink, to purple, and then to a deep, dark blue. As the colors darkened the sky, it's as if an eyelid came down to signal the closing of the day. The woman would feed the geese and pet him. He could feel energy flow to her, could sense her get stronger, see a satisfied smile come over her face as she stands to return to her haven. Jack would then continue on his way. Greeting all those who he encountered, except the man, the man with crossed arms, always with the crossed arms. He was to be avoided. There was no helping him, or was there?

(The red is the part I wrote yesterday - I'm trying to show my thinking a bit as I go. That's harder than I thought, but we'll see. It seemed to interrupt the story too much to put it right in the middle, so I'm just going to put footnoteish things at the end.)

(#1:  I was stuck here I asked myself a few questions…Who's watching? Should I use the line, "perched high like a lonely street light" No I envision an owl there. That doesn't fit the story. Why are they watching? Is the person watching antagonist or protagonist? Who's hiding? Why are they hiding? Is someone hiding? I tentatively answered a few of these questions in my head, but I'll have to see how they play out.)



                             
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Friday, March 16, 2012

Slice of Life #16 - Playing with Fiction

As...noone roamed...

(These words were rolling around in my head, tickling my brain. Then more words came, where it's going I have no idea!)

As morning came noone roamed the streets

(Then)

As morning came, noone roamed the streets of the tiny subdivision overlooking the lake.

As morning came, noone roamed the streets of the tiny subdivision overlooking the lake, but someone was watching. The leaves populated the streets with dancing and leaping they seemed not to have a care in the world, not so for...


(Sorry, I have to think on this more. Not sure if I want to go a mystery route with the whole "watching thing." Who's watching??? Hmmm. Let me see. I think what I'll do is each day keep adding. I noticed Kim (writekimwrite) did this in playing with fiction in her #3 slice. So here goes...)


                            
 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Slice of Life #15 - How I Met My Husband

Again - got this idea from another slicer...

How I Met My Husband

Running late, I swing my legs over the railing, coming in the back patio door right next to the parking lot. Oh?! Someone's sitting at the table. I begin my daily ritual of checking in with the kids at the group-home for deaf, developmentally delayed students and began getting dinner ready. I discovered he was the new on-site counselor. I noticed he was watching me and we struck up a conversation. Later that night he stopped by to check-in. I noticed we always became the last house on his route.

One afternoon as I was telling a co-worker my plans for going on a hay ride that I was chaperoning for our youth group and he invited himself along! He began to get groups of people to go out after work, then interestingly enough it became just the two of us. This continued for a while we enjoyed each others company, but I wasn't sure about a relationship right now and my parents really challenged me that this had moved beyond friendship and had become dating, Did he go to church? Where was he at with his faith? They peppered me with questions.
Finally I had to address these things as well. I shared with him that the most important thing in my life is God and I needed to be dating someone for whom that was also true. He was agnostic and wasn't sure about the whole God thing. I was sure we were done, but he insisted on coming to church with me and he began to meet weekly with my pastor. Every Sunday after church we would go to the library and he would pull out enough biblical resources to completely cover the blue, laminate, rectangular table and poor over these resources and the bible searching for contradictions. He could find none. Then God changed his heart. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He existed and his faith grew and so did our relationship. This May we'll have been married 20 years!



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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Slice of Life #14 - Why I Comment

I also reflected on the question "Why I Comment?" - addressed in another post.

Why I Comment

Affirmation

Community

I comment when I'm moved
  touched by another's words
  sometimes they reach down into my heart
  and squeeze it
Sometimes they are so beautiful how they glide
  right off my tongue
Sometimes they are so clever I laugh outloud
Sometimes I have to read them outloud
  to whomever is in the room
Sometimes I tell my friends in person
  about my slicing friends
As I go through my day I find I'm thinking about...
  disciplining kids
  doors - beginnings and endings
  strawberries
  socks getting lost in the dryer world
  hidden identities
  lost earrings
  special places
  lost friends
  insomnia
  Star Wars figures in purses
  beauty in classrooms
  stink bugs
  waxed eyebrows
  changes
  chickens next door
  bubble wrap
  1st meals
  car stories
  remembering and
  role models
and so much more!

Connected

Changed