Archive for November, 2016


Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts


A friend once told me that I have an artist’s mind, random and all over the place.  While it was a nice way to put it, what she was really telling me was I lack focus.  I’ve always hopped from project to project, idea to idea.  It’s difficult for me to stay tuned in to one thing for any length of time.

Last weekend I had a chat with Irene Latham on the steps of the State Museum at the Louisiana Book Festival.  We were talking about conferences.  She said she realized she could be a conference junkie but questioned whether that would serve her mission.  Her mission?  Yes, Irene has a mission statement.  Don’t we all?  She wrote about how to find your own mission statement in her post on Smack Dab in the Middle. 

The first question, “Who do you admire?” reminded me of a process my friend Kimberley talked about; Find the person who is doing what you want to do and find out how they got there.  In other words, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

When creating a mission statement, I had to consider my personality type.  I really care what people think of me.  It’s a fault, except that it keeps me behaving in ways that are kind and thoughtful.  I want others to respect me, so I respect them.  Not a bad way to be.  It’s tough when I chew on an incident for a long time.  I’m not good at letting things go.  

What does this all have to do with digital literacy and teaching?  In creating a mission statement, a focus for my life, I see clearly that I want to empower others to be the best they can be.  I want to bring creativity into the world.  Through my teaching and writing, I can be both wind and wings.

My students worked all week on their podcasts.  They created scripts from their research and collaborated on making something creative and new.  Yet, the learning curve was high.  I wasn’t sure we could meet it.  I am still waiting on tech help from our district department; however, the glitches didn’t really bother the kids.  They understand that’s all part of making something new in this digital world.

When I reflect on the projects we do in my class, I realize the ones that encourage the strongest focus are ones that are highly creative, honor choice, and are student-driven.  My classroom mission statement is not that different from my personal mission statement.  Margaret and Mrs. Simon walk hand in hand to find their focus and meaning in this world.




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Find more celebration posts at Ruth's blog.

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

October came to an end this week.  Why does this make me sentimental?  Maybe it’s the smell of sugarcane fields burning, or the taste of satsumas, or kids in costumes, but this time of year makes me think about the past, about time, about celebrations.


The sun rises as I drive to school each day.  I took this picture out of my car window.  Next week the time will change and I won’t see the sun rise this way for a while.  Stopping to capture beauty…




My students worked all week on their podcasts.  What fun!  We were challenged by technology and with cooperation.  I celebrate that they came together to support each other.  When I figure out how to make the podcasts public, I will post them.  They wrote about everything from Halloween to mythological creatures and homework.  I celebrate the strength of their writing.  They were motivated to write for an authentic audience.




On my morning walk, I came to this overgrown shrub (or is it a tree?).  I don’t know what it is, but the bright yellow flowers attracted my focus.



A weird organic fall phenomenon is webs in the grass.  They were dotting a field and sparkling with dew.  Who made this?  How tiny a creature?



All of these photos were taken this week on my iPhone.  I never tire of photographing grandmother oak.  Here the fog is rising from the bayou silhouetting her expansive girth.  Nature nurtures the fall air, and I celebrate her gifts.




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Poetry Friday is with Laura at Writing the World for Kids

Poetry Friday is with Laura at Writing the World for Kids


Do you enter contests?  I don’t.  But I pretty much insist that my kids do.  I even will go so far as to write it as a goal on their IEP.  At the end of the school year last year, most of my students entered a piece of writing into our state writing contest, LA Writes.  I was pleased to hear in September that three of them had placed.  The awards ceremony was last Saturday at the Louisiana Book Festival at the State Museum in Baton Rouge.  When Madison came to the microphone to read her poem, she introduced herself as “the author.”  What a thrill for this writing teacher to hear her describe herself as an author.

Madison shows off her first place medal.

Madison shows off her first place medal.

Madison wrote her first place poem after Irene Latham’s “Tree for All.” In May, we had a Skype visit with Irene.  She wrote about my students’ poems here.

I secretly wished that Irene was there to hear Madison read.  Sometime wishes do come true.  Irene was at the Book Festival.  We met up later in the day.  She presented in the Children’s Storytelling Tent and guess who walked by?

Madison meets her author hero, Irene Latham.

Madison meets her author hero, Irene Latham.

Reef for All

after Irene Latham’s “Tree for All”

Sharks feast on my citizens;
my restaurant never closes.

Eels hide in my caves;
my shelters provide homes.

Sea worms play peek-a-boo in my tubes;
my tubes allow all ages.

Fish hide in my caves;
my cradle caves are cozy for new fins.

No sea animal can resist my charm:
I am a coral reef.


Tree for All (in Dear Wandering Wildebeests)
Giraffes feast on my leafy crown;
my buffet never closes.
Rhinos doze beneath my broad branches;
my umbrella selters and shades.
Baboons scramble up and down my trunk;
my playground delights all ages.
Owls nest in my hidden knothole;
my cradle cozies brand-new wings.
Skinks sleep in my thick, spotted bark;
my camouflage keeps them safe.
Safari ants trail along my roots;
my roadways help build a city.
No grassland beast can resist my charms;
I am a wild bush willow tree.
– Irene Latham
Contests make us feel famous.  They give students an opportunity to shine.  Thanks to Irene for being such a beautiful role model to budding author, Madison.

I will be presenting with Irene and some other awesome poets at NCTE 2016 in Atlanta:Sat., 9:30 G.12 Writing for a Better World: Poetry Response to World Events B210


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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Kim Douillard is a fine photographer. She blogs here at Thinking through my Lens. She posts a weekly photo challenge with a single word. I don’t often take the challenge, but this time the word familiar interested me. I started thinking about the root of this word. I was surprised to find an odd connection to Halloween:

A low-ranking demon given to a witch by the Devil for the purpose of strengthening the witch’s power. In medieval times familiars were commonly thought to be animals such as cats, dogs, rabbits and toads. In shamanism, a familiar is a spirit who protects a shaman from illness and unfriendly forces and is also known as a totemic animal, guardian spirit, power animal, or tutelary spirit.

Bill, our male outside cat, often whines at the back door. And what he wants isn’t food. He wants Charlie, my dog and his familiar, to come outside. Bill rubs and rubs on Charlie. Charlie, in turn, humps Bill. These are signs of animal affection. Bill is our familiar, our guardian cat, ready to fight the evil spirits of birds and squirrels and raccoons who wander into the protective area.

The first definition in the online dictionary for familiar is “1. Often encountered or seen: a familiar landmark. See Synonyms at common.”

This gas pump was a familiar site of my youth. Gulf was the well-known service station. My mother would pull up in our Oldsmobile station wagon with the fake wood on the sides and wait. The attendant would pump the gas, wash her windows, check the tires, and give us a piece of candy. Those were the days…


These days the presidential election campaign is heating up (or gone off the deep end, rather), but in our small town of New Iberia, politics happens on Main Street. My husband will not discuss national politics, but he can talk all day with his friend Dan who is running for Mayor Pro-Tem. Here they are at a political rally complete with signs, beer, jambalaya, and a brass band.


Thanks, Kim, for giving me a word to focus on for this Slice. What does familiar mean to you? Join the conversation with #familiar and @nwpianthology.

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