If A Tree Falls In The Woods, Will Robert Frost Be Surprised?

I. We promise magic, we teachers of writing. A kind of electromagnetism that will connect writer and reader; a moment when words, ideas, and intentions collide and BAM: meaning explodes. Once upon a time, we teachers asked kids to write on paper, pass it in, then we would hand it back. Then we asked kids to write for more than just the grownups. We asked […]

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Do As I Say or As I Do? Making Blogging Matter

I’m reflecting on this thing we call blogging. Why do I do it– what do I expect to get out of it? What am I writing about? Does it matter? To whom? What do I want this blog to look like– how does it represent me? (If you can think of any, please add them in the comments.) I’m thinking about this because I’d been thinking about […]

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The Cat Who Needed Glasses: On Caring in the Classroom

I told my husband, “I want a cat and I will name him Bob.”  Six weeks later, a note appeared on an online neighborhood discussion board. Help Robert Find His Forever Home. I went to meet him and the next day, I brought him home. He was a skinny guy; you could feel his tail bones when you stroked him. This is not normal, but it was […]

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#SOL18 On the Cusp of February

For approximately 4 hours this morning, the sun came out and the sky was blue. I pushed everything to one side of my desk, tossed my schedule out the window, and my cardio training goals (and gym plans) out the window. I was going for a walk, dammit. In winter in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), this seems to happen a lot. The sun comes out […]

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#SOL18 My #OLW: Honesty

Honesty was not the word I chose. It came to me on a piece of shiny magenta paper cut into the shape of a star. I picked it at random from a basket of stars. Well, maybe not completely at random– I quickly fished around until I caught sight of a color I liked. When I read the word, I felt a little jolt. And […]

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#SOL17: Digital Life, Post-Concussion

I. I haven’t blogged since July. First there was a bike trip to the San Juan Island. Then there were other things related to giving this old house the kind of love it hasn’t had in a while. And then came the eclipse.  I watched it from a lawn chair in my sister-in-law’s backyard, coffee mugs and cats at our sides. When it was time […]

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I Don’t Know How To Teach Literature

No, that’s not accurate. I can sling the terms around with the best of them: irony, theme, protagonist, point of view…. More difficult, and what I’ve found myself puzzling about over the course of the past week is the question of how I would “teach” kids to tell the difference between literature and its bastard cousins, fiction, popular fiction, or young adult fiction.  One is enjoying a popular resurgence but […]

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A Rose By Any Other Name Would Be A Dead Weight

I’m in A Mood today. I was going to write, for no special reason, but that would be a lie. It all started yesterday, in a rose bed not far from my house. Roses are a Big Deal here. (They don’t call Portland the Rose City for nothing.) Roses grow like weeds, to the point you can feel rose-intoxicated by taking a breath as you walk […]

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Racism Goes to School

Preface In the time since I began to write this post, racism has been visible in Portland in a number of ways, one horrific enough to make national news. But there have been local incidents too. For example, at the middle school a few blocks away, an 8th grader waiting at a bus stop was harassed with racial slurs. This poster appeared not too far […]

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