SOL #24 – Shadows


“Have you noticed we are getting shorter by the hour?”

Don’t worry.  No one is actually shrinking.  Today is beautiful.  The sun is shining and it feels like spring.  It is the perfect weather for an investigation into shadows.  We went outside once each hour to trace shadows, observing the changes.

After our third shadow, a student came up to me and asked, “Have you noticed we are getting shorter by the hour?”  🙂

Some days I wish they were shrinking, because most of them are eye level or taller than me…

SOL #23 – “The credit belongs to the man in the arena.”

Excitement filled the gym.  It was our girl’s 4th/5th grade basketball game and the girls were up by several baskets.

One of my students on the team passed by where I was sitting with some fifth grade boys on her way back from the drinking fountain.

“Sally.”  Sally paused and turned to face Billy.  “Sally, did you play in the game yet?”

“Yeah,” she replied.

“Did you score any points?”

“Not in this game.”

“Did you score points in any of your other games?” he asked, starting to smirk.

She nodded, starting to look impatient with his line of questioning.

“How many points?”

“I don’t know.”

“Probably only like two.”

“How many points did you score this year?”

“I wasn’t on the team,” he replied.


And she walked away, back to win their second game as a team.  BOOM!  I was so proud of her!  She didn’t let him get to her and she stood up for herself.  You go girl!

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt

SOL #17 – Sophie’s Mom

“I’m scared…Today could be the day…”11454297503_e27946e4ff_h

Silence.  He was checking his blog.  “Nope.”

“Today’s not the day?”  another student sympathized.

“Nope.  Maybe tomorrow,”  Julian responded.

At this point we all know exactly what he is referring to – Sophie’s Mom.

My students have been blogging all month as part of the Two Writing Teachers Classroom Slice of Life.  Recently, Stacey Shubitz commented on some of my students’ blog posts.  (Thank you Stacey!)  When she comments, a tiny picture of her is also visible next to the comment.  Julian at Amazing15 saw a comment from her on a classmate’s blog and automatically turned to Sophie, a classmate.  “Is this your mom?  Are you sure?”  She assured him it was not her mother, but couldn’t deny the resemblance.

Although he knows Stacey Shubitz is from Two Writing Teachers and is not Sophie’s mom, he still looked each day this week for a comment from “Sophie’s Mom.”  Today his post is about this very wish.  You can read it and leave him a comment here.  He is a dedicated writer and has sliced every day of March so far!

Stacey – If you are reading this, it would make Julian’s day/week/school year if he were to receive a comment from Sophie’s famous mom!

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 5.17.53 PM

SOL #16 – My ❤️ is Full!

“Ms. Bless, I compared you to my mom the other day.”  20160703_114739 copy

This came from a student and from experience I know this can go many different ways.  You never know if you will be receiving a compliment or a hit to your self-esteem.

“Why?  How are we the same?” I asked warily.

“Well, she was mad at us,” she started explaining a situation with her brothers.  “And I said, ‘You’re like Ms. Bless.  You both get mad at us sometimes, but you still love us no matter what.”

My ❤️ is full!

SOL #14 – Gotta Love a Good Writing Mini-lesson!

My writers gathered on the ground, crisscross applesauce, for today’s mini-lesson.  It was an idea from Craft Lessons by Ralph Fletcher and Joann Portalupi about word choice.  I explained to the students that we would be reading Shrek for a purpose today – to find alternatives to the word walk.

I read.  At the end of each page I stopped so students could share the synonyms they had heard.  A student added them to our anchor chart.

They were enthralled with the ugly guy who breaths fire, eats pheasant, and is looking for his even uglier princess.  Very engaged, listening for the words that were used instead of walk.

“Why do you think the author is using all of these words that we don’t normally hear, all in one book?” I asked.

“Because it makes it funnier,” they answered.

“Some of the children kept hugging and kissing him, and there was nothing he could do to make them stop,” I read.

“Some people don’t like to be hugged,” a student empathized.

And when he found his princess and they started to recite rhymes to each other!    They loved it!

Said Shrek:

“Oh, ghastly you,

With lips of blue,

Your ruddy eyes

With carmine sties

Enchant me.

I could go on,

I know you know

The reason why

I love you so –

You’re ugh-ly!”

We finished and I sent them off to slice, paying attention to the verbs they choose to use.  No one is too old to enjoy a good picture book!



SOL #13 – “It didn’t go as planned.”

The mid-month slump is here and I’m out of ideas.   It always seems to happen around this time and results in procrastination.  Lots of procrastination.  Dinner.  Dishes.  Netflix.  I started reading and commenting on student blogs.

One of my talented writers wrote a post about wet grass.  In it she wrote, “It didn’t go as planned.”  And that got me thinking…so many things have not gone as planned. In my life.  In each day of teaching.

Now I have a list of slices.  Being a teen mom.  The discussion on women’s rights on Friday.   A read aloud.  Losing at Monopoly. So, today’s slice is about not having ideas and finding inspiration in my student.  But, I also have a list of other ideas in my notebook ready for the upcoming week.





SOL #9 – No Offense

Light chatter filled the room and stories were being shared.  It was writing workshop. A small group of students were sitting around my table, chatting.  A few slice ideas were being passed around.  Writing was happening in notebooks and on iPads.

“I don’t know how to end this,” one of my girls said, pen in hand.  The statement wasn’t directed at anyone specifically.

“Just say The End,” replied another.

“I can’t do that!  Ms. Bless said that I can’t do that,” said the first.  “I always remember Ms. Bless telling me not to say The End.”  She was referring to third grade, because I have been lucky enough to have some of my students in both third and now fifth.  It is good to know that several of my lessons have stuck.  Because then she continued, “She also always told me not to say no offense.  Because if I say ‘No offense,’ I just shouldn’t say what I was going to say after that. It’s probably offensive.”    I love that I have been able to build onto what I have already taught some of my kids about writing and life.  🙂

I pulled up a slideshow of ideas for narrative endings and passed my computer to her.  (She knows how to take a mentor and use it.) Then, I turned to talk to another student.   The chatting and writing continued, but I’m not sure what was being said.

She eventually passed me back my computer, as I continued to work with other students – seamless.   A sign that we know each other, we are a team, and words aren’t always necessary.

“No offense, but…” and then she stopped.  We made eye contact.  “Never mind.”