Excited by Ants

The other day I saw a couple of ants. You know its been a long winter when the sight of a few ants excites me. Life! I’ve been waiting for some green: a glimpse of my perennials poking through, buds on trees, the grass beginning to turn. Haven’t seen much of that yet so I’ll take the ants.

Perhaps Spring is actually on its way…

P.S. This post is proof that anything and everything can become topics for writing!

Read what your students are reading!

On Saturday I presented at a Literacy Conference. Each time I do, despite my specific topic, I speak about the empowering nature of literacy.

Yes, reading and writing are part of the curriculum. However, they are so much more than that! If we, as teachers, view reading and writing as a form of empowerment, our students will too. They will begin to realize the relevance beyond the four walls of our classrooms. As Kate DiCamillo says, “Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty.  It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” The gift of literacy will enable them to function in our world, find meaning and purpose, and experience life more fully.

Besides reading aloud, one of the most effective ways to encourage our students to read is to read what they are reading! When I see a student deliberating at the book bins, I go over and say, “I’ve read this one. I think you’ll like it!” Checking in periodically helps too: “What part are you at?”

These casual conversations and moments shared through the pages of a book are enough to motivate many young readers. Habits and attitudes develop early. Take time today to nurture those readers and writers in your classroom!

National poetry month + the unrelenting winter = my pantoum poem

The cold air lingers,

The snow still flies,

Winter will not release its grasp.

Where are you Spring?


The snow still flies,

A whisper of hope from my vase of tulips,

Where are you Spring?

I’m ready now.


A whisper of hope from my vase of tulips,

I long to see the grass turn green, the buds on trees,

I’m ready now,

Spring, oh Spring!


I long to see the grass turn green, the buds on trees,

But the cold air lingers.

Spring, oh Spring,

Winter will not release its grasp.


Heavy Hearts

A collective gasp, shared tears and heavy hearts. The news of Friday’s horrific crash has rocked the nation. It’s been one of those weekends when you hold your loved ones a little closer.

Today, I offer my prayers for the Humboldt Broncos.

For first responders: that they know their work is necessary, courageous and appreciated. For the families of all involved: may they find comfort in memories and strength through the support of the community. For those who survived the crash: may they find healing, solace and purpose in the years ahead. For those whose precious lives were lost: may they rest in peace and forever live in the hearts of their loved ones. 

“Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) And so do we.


Language is Hope

During the month of March, several seemingly unconnected events occurred: Stephen Hawking died, I read a book called Ghost Boy (the true story of Martin Pistorius who became a mute quadriplegic at age 12), I heard Michelle Obama speak, and I was offered a new job for next year as English Language Arts Consultant for grades 4-6.

Together, these events have me thinking. It’s interesting: each event on its own might not yield the same thoughts. But the simultaneity of these things have reminded me of the power and connectedness of language and hope.

During the last six years of my father’s life he was quadriplegic. Speaking was difficult: it took every ounce of his energy to get his words out. Sometimes we knew what he was saying and sometimes not. Physically, his body had failed him. Whenever I see footage of Stephen Hawking, and as I read Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius, I am reminded of my father: they shared similarities in their inabilities to walk, hold up their own heads or move their hands except in uncontrollable spasms. But, also like Stephen Hawking and Martin Pistorius, my father was completely lucid and aware.

Since regaining his voice through the use of a communication device, Martin Pistorius has said, “Not having a voice to say I’d had enough food or the bath water was too hot or to tell someone I loved them was the thing that made me feel most inhuman. Words and speech separate us from the animal kingdom, after all.”

These three men had physical bodies that failed them. And yet, they connected to the world and to other people through words, though perhaps in unconventional ways.

Now, how does Michelle Obama fit in? Well, one of the lines she spoke was this: “Life is a series of dips. Sometimes the dips last for years but there is always a crest.” Her words remind me of these three men: they survived the dips and found the crest. They surpassed the expectations of the doctors and those around them, and despite what they were facing, they all found hope and purpose in life.

And my new job? How does it connect to all of this? I see my role as Language Arts Consultant as one to empower and inspire teachers and students through language. Students need the skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening to function in our world. Giving them these skills, though they may look or sound a little different for some, can assist them in realizing their dreams. Language is hope.

Still need convincing? Check out these short videos: words from Stephen Hawking & Anderson Cooper’s interview with Martin Pistorius.