#clmooc MMM Make More Memes

clmooccorinnethomsenmemesquarmmm1 Memes: a media element spread on the internet, altered by others, and added to the internet’s dispersed collections.

They are fun, often humorous, and sometimes satirical. They can be informative. Dogtrax [ Kevin Hodgson] invites us to continue the #clmooc tradition of memes this year. So if a phrase captures your attention, let us know by choosing a meme image to fit. Create it, and spread the Meme Magic.





clmooc 044corinnethomsenWhen Corinne Thomsen shared her lovely drawing, I immediately thought: Meme Magic!

So I asked her permission and began a remix. I opened my free app, Sketchbook Express, and began the process of remixing and adapting her fun image. I downloaded her image and inserted it into Sketchbook Express, which allows me to fill, draw, layer, and add text.










I first made a blank template for all of us to use. So download this image [right or control click and Save Image As] and create your own. I made it square [ 500 x 500 pixels ] because some meme generators require square images; adapt as you need to. It does allow for adding information on the white right side.









So, Welcome to  #clmooc















Build your personal / professional learning community through fun projects collaborating with others throughout the summer:















What is it all about? It’s about becoming a Connected Learner and guiding your students’ connections as well. Come join the   #clmooc and follow on Twitter #clmooc

















And remember to Make More Memes !


Sunshine Blog Challenge


A Challenge

My fellow #etmooc -er Rhonda Jessen added another challenge for me: The Sunshine Blog Challenge for which I am honored to participate.  I’m smack dab in the middle of several projects, so I’ll be brief and add questions for my nominees that can also be responded to briefly. These are fun and help us —  global connected educators — get to know each other. Thanks again Rhonda!

How It Works

1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)


 11 Facts

  1. I also choose dark chocolate and occasionally partake in those other types. But dark chocolate soothes the soul on surly days. It started when I was young and the corner grocery story sold candy bars for a nickel. Almond Joy: dark chocolate and coconut with almonds. Yum. Mom could afford a nickel for my brother and I to cheer us up.
  2. I usually carry both a cell phone and a mini-iPad; I use them when I want to– not when they notify me- when it doesn’t interrupt what I’m doing at the time.
  3. I love percussion. I played drums in the band in high school, and the beat of rock music brings great memories. No, I don’t play anymore, but I will sometimes grab a pair of sticks and beat out a cadence, much to the amazement of my students.
  4. I love to sing in the car, which is a good thing. I can’t sing; it’s why I played drums. I even tell my students: if I need to keep you in for recess, I will sing to you. [No! they laugh.]
  5. I do drive to work. It’s twenty miles north on a lovely and quiet drive through the sage brush, right up to the edge of the wooded hills. Pleasant. Thoughtful. Many NPR moments.
  6. I’m not much of a traveller, except online. I’m a hobbit who loves an adventure; my husband and I will hop in the car and let the road lead us.
  7. I’ve always had a furry creature around: cat, gerbil, dog. Currently we enjoy two cats and an a dog, whom we are nursing through old age as long as we can because she has brought us so much joy. Her kind eyes let us know what she needs, and we still walk her twice a day.
  8. Spring is my favorite season, with its budding hope of renewal.
  9. A Christmas tree with small colored lights is our calming evening light year ’round.
  10. I’ve written two novels for NaNoWriMo :)
  11. 11-1 are the number of my amazing, intelligent, and creative grandkids.

Questions from Rhonda

1. Winter or summer?

Summer: Winter teach; summer beach.  I love the gracious gift of warm weather — the heat of the sun beaming energy to everything, and the cool water of the lake refreshing us.


2. Favourite comfort food?

Dark Chocolate — and occasionally puffy Cheetos


3. Favourite food?

Reservations. And then it depends on the restaurant: Chicken Satay; Chicken Gorgonzola, or Chicken Panini. Hmmm. There’s a pattern there. And homemade soup.

4. What is the best way to support those who are new to open education and are overwhelmed by the possibilities?

Guide them in small steps and be there with feedback; collaborate with them on a project.

5. Who was the best teacher you ever had? Why?

The best teacher: Dr. Francis Kazemek at Eastern Washington University

Why? Seminar and Project-based courses that were student-centered and extremely rigorous

If he taught a class I was required to take, I’d wait until his turn to teach it to enroll.

6. Who was the worst teacher you ever had? Why?

I didn’t have a worst teacher. I learned from all of them, because “you get out of life what you give it.” I found the value.

7. What are you reading right now?

Teaching Argument Writing, Grades 6-12 Supporting Claims with Relevant Evidence and Clear Reasoning George Hillocks Jr, Emeritus, University of Chicago

8. What are you learning right now?

Politics interferes with education.

9. What’s your favourite way to stay connected?

Twitter: Grammasheri

Google Plus: Grammasheri

10. Describe a great day at work.

A great day at work are the days my students have a great day — when drama and distractions don’t cause them stress. Then we all dive in and learn together. I’m a facilitator, a guide, offering suggestions and feedback that is accepted and reviewed.  Families stop in to see their student’s progress, and my colleagues find time to share and enjoy each other’s work.

11. Describe a great day off.

A great day off is spent with my family, often geeking out together, and definitely a delicious dinner with great conversation.

My Nominations

Tracy Watanabe from whom I learn every day; her blog is professional development !

Paula Neidlinger who is a leader in organizing collaborative blogging for teachers and students with her #teach2blog

Denise Krebs who chooses difficult journeys to help others

Joy Kirr who is everyone’s cheerleader as she leads us in implementing #geniushour  even in these “testing” times

JoAnn Jacobs whose strength through adversity shines through the beauty she finds everywhere

Erin Jackle who shares her amazing journey to enhance tech learning in her districts

Randy Norman who shares middle school teacher life, because it is our lives

Barbara McVeigh is a champion librarian whose posts share not just books but creative wisdom for her students and us

Valerie Lees is an amazing educator, always connecting and sharing to develop blended, authentic learning at her high school

Jill Grafton [ Jill Barnes ] is another middle school teacher whose focus is on language arts learning — and her students are through her lead as a connected educator

Rachel Tassler, another reading teacher who reflects on her own learning and applies it to her students.

My Questions

  1. City or Country? and Why?
  2. Inside or Outside? and Why?
  3. Mac, PC, or ? and Why?
  4. Cat or Dog? and Why?
  5. An item on your “Bucket List,” would be?
  6. Favorite education quote, and why?
  7. Education: your definition is?
  8. A suggestion for a new teacher would be?
  9. A Song that moves you – and Why?
  10. A Book that moved you — and Why?
  11. You: in a six word sentence

The Sunshine Elevens

Happy New Year !

Eloquence. Contemplation. Whenever I read the work of Terry Elliot, those words describe how I feel, and I know I’m in for a time well spent on contemplating his ideas. And now he’s tagged me in the Sunshine Elevens Meme, so I feel like so many who follow, “His is a hard act to follow.”  I appreciate the tag and accept the challenge.  Here’s how it works:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.
  6. Please share with me a link to your response.

Eleven Random Facts

  1. In my backyard is one of the tallest trees on our side of the river. It’s an American Plane tree, otherwise known as a sycamore. I know it is ancient, an ent from folklore, a giant guarding our community. Terry will appreciate that.
  2. And, to build imagination and wonder through folklore, our family creates our own myths from which to draw strength and imagine a better world, “What if…” We see dragons still swimming in their underworld, seen only in the rivers of our world.
  3. So my three Nanowrimo Novels are all based in both science and fantasy… imagine.
  4. I did not unschool my own kids, but I did ever-school them: I did give them the tools to be independent and critical thinkers. From the time they were small, I established wide boundaries filled with options and the freedom to create and imagine, while at the same time expecting them to learn from whoever or whatever is around them — in school or out.
  5. Two cats call our place home, and one even thinks our dog is her mom. Cats: because we are awed by tigers.
  6. Once, while attending a conference with my husband, I found myself eating breakfast next to Red Skelton [tribute, site] . Growing up with Gertrude and Heathcliff, I was honored when he offered to sit with me. He was charming, a gentle voice and kind eyes. Some of what I remember is that he wrote a love letter to his wife every day and practiced his show for four hours. Every day he wrote down something interesting, something humorous, something new, and four other things I’ve forgotten. Those were the fuel for his show. It was a blessing to have met him.
  7. I’m not an outdoors expert. I once got lost on an island in the middle of a lake. You know that rule, three points make a straight line — and follow three trees in a row? That’s what I did to find the shore again, and saw the cabins with huge bear claw marks on the outside just as the boat I had arrived in sputtered around the bend to find me.
  8. I collect rocks; there are stories in them. Grandfather Rock is the oldest storyteller. When we go on trips or visit grandkids, even the grandkids add to the collection.
  9. I can’t draw, but I like to draw.
  10. I can’t sing, but I like to sing.
  11. So even if you think you can’t, try.

Eleven Questions to Answer (your choice from the eighteen provided)

If you could remove one thing or idea from our world, what would it be and why?

I’ll stick to an education concept: standardization. While standards give us a goal, thinking that we could all be the same, or learn the same, within the same time frame is not something that is possible. We must accept the learner, the learner’s needs, and the learner’s interests for true learning to occur.

Where do you hope to be professionally in ten, twenty years and are you currently progressing toward that stage?

Professionally in ten years, I hope to be planting and tending a garden as well as creating an online forum for encouraging writers. Along with the garden, I hope to plant and tend a few books, of others and my own. I’ve already penned three drafts in the works for my own novels and a few blogs and fellow bloggers for the continuation of writing in my life.

What is one of the more significant trends in pedagogy right now and how do you foresee it progressing in the future?

Globally connected, interest driven education.

I envision a world of open communication, with pockets of community areas, resource centers, for face-to-face collaboration for local issues and learning with families and students choosing their learning paths.

Right now, platforms like Nings, blogging, Google Plus connect students for sharing and soon for collaboration. It’s a hope for a better world of understanding and acceptance, and a better education system whereby all students can be connected to learning areas that inspire them.

And in this learning resource center, Terry would be a learning concierge.

I envisioned it here.

What is a favorite quote of yours and can you please share your interpretation of it and why it is a favorite?

I’ve many favorite, but this one popped into my head now:

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”  ~ Henry Ford

I don’t give up. I don’t say I can’t. I keep hacking my way through until I’ve exhausted all possibilities. Because, if I think I can’t, then I won’t. But if I think I can, then I will. You’ld be right either way. I share this with my students — that what they put in their minds is exactly what their brain will do. And a sign says, “If I think I can’t, I’ll say, ‘I’ll try.'” I’m worth it. They are worth it, and they should never short-change the belief they have of themselves. And, we need to help each other succeed in our endeavors. We’re together in this world.

You are presented the opportunity to spend a full day doing whatever you want with any three people in the world. Who are the three people and what is the itinerary?

My first choice would be to spend the day in the early spring sunshine on a deck near the lake with Scott and my sons, Greg and Jake sharing stories, asking questions, and discussing the answers to life, the universe, and everything [42].

Educationally, I’d love a conversation on education reform in that same early spring sunshine on a deck near the lake with John Dewey, Haim Ginott, and Leo Buscaglia.

Is there evil in the human condition, in this world? Please explain.

I don’t think about it. I can’t put evil in my mind. I know that people can only act with the information they have, and if all they’ve been given is sadness and evil, what would we expect?

You can have any super power you want. What power and why?

I have a super power: I can learn.

Do you choose an iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry, or old-school Nokia cellular phone and why?


It is not a phone; it is a communicator, and with that comes the very notion of a positive future, a positive humanity. It’s purpose was to create a user-friendly operating system, so the user chooses. And because we are all so different, its system is uniquely designed to fit differences. It allows me to choose from so many quality apps and layouts, that the tool is a communicator; it is my choice, just like I want for my students. Creativity and productivity within a connected and collaborative space based on personal passions.

What is the next item on your bucket list you aim to achieve?

There’s a hole in the bucket, Liza. I can just keep adding…

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? How?

The egg, and what cracked open surprised everyone.

Children are… (complete the sentence or paragraph).

Children are resilient, and they still need care, even past their teens.

If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Green salad with tangerines, nuts, and balsamic dressing

Dilled Pot Roast

What is your favorite game/sport to play? When did you discover it?

Fluxx: a card game the family plays, because, like life, your plans don’t always work, but it’s still enjoyable.

I discovered it years ago in Uncles, the toy store within Aunties Bookstore. I read the directions and bought decks for each family for Christmas. We’ve been playing ever since.


Desert island playlist or music (limit 10 pieces). Books (limit 10)?


Sounds from Tuesday Evening by Scott

Cosmos by Jordan

Imagine John Lennon

Mind Games John Lennon

In My Life John Lennon

Where My Heart Will Take Me Russell Watson

Blowin In the Wind Peter, Paul, and Mary

Oh He Oh Jim Boyd

Simple Gifts Raffi

To Live is to Fly Townes Van Zandt


Go and Come Back by Joan Abelove

Survivor’s Guide to Your Island

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy

The Hobbit

Lord of the Rings Trilogy

5 Blank Books (I’m sure I could invent pen and ink)


What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done? The result?

What: Stood up for myself.

Result: Grief and Relief.

What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken in your life? How did it work out?

I’m a worry wart, so I don’t take risks. But my husband and I have been married for twenty-seven years. That risk seems to have worked out.

What teacher had the biggest impact on your life? How did they impact you? Does this teacher know the impact they had on you?

Teacher: Dr. Francis Kazemek, an English professor at Eastern Washington University in the 1980’s.

His seminar, student project approach is much the direction of reformers today and was his model. As an over-achiever, I dove into projects and surrounded myself with the topics, creating learning that fit what I needed to learn so I could become a better teacher. I believe he knew the affect he had on his students; we kept in touch off and on for years.

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

Whenever my students engage, and my job is truly one of facilitation, then I smile. Pride comes in daily doses for students and teachers, because teaching and learning is daily.

These amazing educators I have tagged:

Brendan Murphy

Tracy Watanabe and response

JoAnn Jacobs and response

Theresa Allen and response

 Jackie Gerstein

Laura Gilchrist

Paula Neidlinger

Scott Hazeu and response

Bart Miller

 Susan Angel

Tara Smith

To answer these questions:

  1. When did you know what you wanted to do for a career? How did you discover that?
  2. What are your top three favorite books of all time?
  3. If you could only read one blogger next year, who would it be?
  4. What advice do you have for educators today?
  5. What is on your bucket list?
  6. If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?
  7. What is your favorite quote?
  8. What song lyrics move you?
  9. If you could sit with any 5 people dead or alive around your dinner table who would you choose and why?
  10. What are your five favorite verbs?
  11. What six words sum up your philosophy [of life or of education]?

Thanks for joining the Meme Homework and whatever you can do — I’ll be delighted to learn from you!

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.
  6. Please share with me a link to your response [They are sharing here].



Happy New Year !

Sunshine Blog Meme Homework #openspokes

georgesantayanaspotsGetting Back

Jeremy’s right: sometimes we need to kickstart our blogging. And what better way to do that than to nudge your friends too. Thanks to Jeremy and Susan, I’ll stop watching mysteries on iTunes and NetFlix and get back into blogging. I’ll respond to both tags [from Jeremy and Susan] in this post.

I hope, if you’re tagged, that you’ll enjoy the nudge as much as I do.


  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

11 Random Facts About Myself

  1. Mysteries. I like to puzzle them out and guess the whodunit. I like to imagine the process of writing the mysteries.
  2. Trekkie: Star Trek is always a good choice for relaxing — series or movie. Live long and prosper!
  3. Music: Rock n Roll — My favorite song is In My Life [John Lennon / Beatles ]
  4. Drums: Yes, I was a percussionist. The beat is the heart of the music.
  5. Books: Things to use — bend the pages, tear out a chapter and take it with you, scribble in the margins — love them  in hand or digital.
  6. Places: Home. This hobbit’s favorite place is home, except for the occasional adventure.
  7. People: Scott. 10 grandkids — awesome, every one.
  8. Hidden: I’m extremely shy, except about education.
  9. Hobbies: Grandkids, Mysteries, Reading, Writing, Photography, Poetry, Geeking-Out, and Making [stamping cards]
  10. Hack: Find a way to make it work; life isn’t easy — make it happen.
  11. Adventures: I’ve interviewed Red Skelton and met Michael Jordan; During a trip to Washington, DC, I entered the National Gallery of Art and immediately told my husband, “This is where I’ll be — cancel the tours.” And I’d do it again.



What was your favourite class in university?

My favorite classes were language arts courses taught by Dr. Francis Kazemek, who taught through seminar and self-directed projects that met the goals of the course. I completed so much more in each class than if we had assigned work; each class resulted in projects and experiences I draw upon today.


If you could only read one blogger next year, who would it be?

Today, it would be David Truss at pairadimesI learn so much about inquiry and collaboration that directly affects student learning.


If you could have your choice of career changes tomorrow, what would you choose? 



What is your favourite way to relax?

Star Trek or Mysteries


How do you burn off energy when needed?

Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk with the dog.


Who is your favourite author and book/series?

Go and Come Back by Joan Abelove

Dune Series by Frank Herbert

Julian May’s Science Fantasy Series

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy [all five] by Douglas Adams

Introvert or extrovert?



Mac, PC, or other?

Mac, there is no other.


Which is your favourite social media?

Twitter and Google Plus


Who is the most influential member of your PLN?

Jackie Gerstein Twitter / Blog

Always read Jackie’s tweets and blog for positive and energizing educational strategies and ideas.

Do you have any quirky habits?

I’m very focused; I will forget to eat.


Here are my Questions for you… from Susan

When did you know what you wanted to do for a Career? How did you discover that?

When I was in fifth grade (1960), as a girl, I had three choices: nurse, secretary, teacher. There was no way I was going to type all day and make other people coffee, so secretary was out. Then the experiment broke as we were leaving class; a piece of glass sliced the artery on my achilles tendon. Someone said, “You’re bleeding, Sheri.” I looked back and pulled my sock down — the blood spurted out. I immediately thought, “I am not going to be a nurse.”

So, from that day, I observed and learned and knew that when I grew up, I would be a teacher. My dad brought home old school desks from his school — the kind that held two or three desks together and the seats folded up. I received a blackboard for Christmas. So in the basement, at any time of year, I’d be the teacher to the neighbor kids and my little brother, who would not behave.

What are your top three favourite books of all time?

Go and Come Back by Joan Abelove

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy [all five] by Douglas Adams

Teacher and Child by Hiam Ginott


What advice do you have on love?

Give love, always.

Kindness is a form of love.

What is on your bucket list?

Visit Independence Hall

Visit the Giant Sequois

What is the best advice you can give to your children?

Follow your dreams, and make them happen, knowing that, sometimes, our dreams change.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?

Visit Independence Hall

Visit the Giant Sequois

What are 3 things that matter to you?

Scott. Family. The Dog.

If you could sit with any 5 people dead or alive around your dinner table who would you choose and why?

Scott: sensible, outgoing, knowledgeable, curious, humorous, plays guitar and sings

Greg: my son, he’ll giggle and add interesting solutions and stories

Jake: my son, he’ll pierce the conversation with either humor or truths

Leo Buscaglia: because love is the answer

Thomas Jefferson: because he was so curious and filled his home with books, and he said: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” and  “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”


John Lennon: because love is the answer, and you know that, for sure [no matter the difficulties and our mistakes]; peace


What is your favorite quote?

“What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?”  ~ George Eliot
How do you want to be remembered?

I have been blessed with that answer already from my granddaughter: “You two have been inspiration and amazing role models for me and all the cousins.” Scott and I have done what we could, and we continue to do so in our work and for our families: live and love and make life less difficult for each other…


Now it’s your Turn:

Brendan Murphy

Tracy Watanabe

JoAnn Jacobs

Theresa Allen

 Jackie Gerstein

Laura Gilchrist

Paula Neidlinger

Scott Hazeu

Bart Miller

 Susan Angel

Tara Smith

Questions for you:

  1. When did you know what you wanted to do for a career? How did you discover that?
  2. What are your top three favorite books of all time?
  3. If you could only read one blogger next year, who would it be?
  4. What advice do you have for educators today?
  5. What is on your bucket list?
  6. If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?
  7. What is your favorite quote?
  8. What song lyrics move you?
  9. If you could sit with any 5 people dead or alive around your dinner table who would you choose and why?
  10. What are your five favorite verbs?
  11. What six words sum up your philosophy [of life or of education]?

Thanks for joining the Meme Homework and whatever you can do — I’ll be delighted to learn from you!


  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

Post back here with a link after you write whichever responses you can at this busy time.  Thank you!

I want to do it all… and remind me…

My Friend Joy Kirr, 7th grade LA teacher from Illinois, wants to do it all — learn all the time and apply that learning in the classroom to inspire and encourage her students. Read what she says here:

Our Genius Hour: I want to do it all…:

‘via Blog this’

I agree; I want my students to live learning… not just love learning, but “live learning.”  It reminds me of a quote my students chose a few years ago as their motto:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

This quote was attributed to Gandhi, but he did not actually say it; others have had similar views. (see here). Whoever started it, it is a great way to live.  I want my students and my family to “live learning.”

So, I want to do it all…

I want to learn all I can to share with my students and family so that they may do the same, adding positive words and actions to our world, which is why I say, “Go boldly, and scatter seeds of kindness.”

I want my students and family to know about the people and things that have changed the world for the better, and to add to those resources so that they too may create to change the world to be better.

I want my students and family to share, to collaborate, to invite, to consider, and also to find time for the quiet reflection that helps put the world into perspective: Live and let live. I am small, but I can make a difference in the world around me.

I need to remind myself to take one step at a time, and to remember this:
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely…” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am not perfect, but I can live learning…

How about you? What do you want to do? And what do you want to remind yourself?

And thanks @JoyKirr for reminding me…


Note: this post will be cross-blogged at What Else 2 Learn, Ask What Else,  Sheri42, and Pause2Play

Blogging for Writers includes Elbow Grease

As I read the wonderful posts about quality blogging while participating in Silvia Tolisano’s blogging series and audit meme, I considered several strategies, audiences, and purposes for blogging. What else do writers do?

First of all, my students and I have also learned so much about blogging and commenting from Linda Yollis & Class. We also have adopted Linda Yollis’s Class Quality Comment Guidelines for our checklist. As Andrea commented in Tracy’s Quality Blogging and Audit Meme post, sometimes our comments sound forced and constrained because they are using the checklist. Tracy shared Gina Fraher’s Color Coding Checklist, adding that students need to start somewhere; we all do. Following a model is one way to learn, and this color coding strategy is one I’ve used with younger students learning to write paragraphs. Evaluating our work, and writing excellent posts to share information are two reasons for blogging.

Writing is not easy. That’s why we break the task into a writing process and a writing traits. Tracy adds, “Breaking the task down and working through it together.” Learning the “parts” means that sometimes our blogs and comments will be stilted and forced, but that is part of learning to break writing into the parts to work on improving them— such as asking questions to carry on the conversation, –when it’s valuable, because as Linda Yollis commented in Tracy’s post, “sometimes there isn’t a need for a reply.” Kids need to learn that too, and that decision could be part of the rubric “Choice to comment reflects purpose of post/comment.” Critical thinking is part of reading and writing through blogging, another purpose.

As I began to visualize all these marvelous models we’ll have from Silvia Tolisano’s blogging series and audit meme, I considered the voice from those who consider blogging a personal venture.

I wonder if we need to add one more strategy  and purpose for blogging and writing. Our goal is better writers, and we are asking our writing to be powerful and clear for the reader. Sometimes the audience and purpose, though, in blogging is as much for the writer as it is for the reader. That’s the “What Else.” Peter Elbow recommends that we sometimes struggle through “messy writing.” Writing just to discover the ideas. Writing just to capture that gem of powerful writing amongst the stones. Just as we learn to read well, not only through instruction, but also by reading a lot, so too we must allow students time for both instruction and for independent writing. This discovery writing will be “messy writing” to discover our ideas and to gather ideas from others.

Here’s a class document based on Peter Elbow’s Writing with Power. We call it Elbow Grease for Discovery Drafts. This type of blogging does several things:

  • allows writers to explore ideas
  •  connects writers and readers
  • develops writing fluency and voice
  • provides evidence of writing process
  • allows the experience of real and messy writing
  • encourages the flow if ideas
  • connects formal and personal writing
  • honors writing time as instructional and evaluative as well as personal and explorative

The Elbow Grease activity provides a writing and audit strategy that may also benefit students new to blogging, allowing them a place to develop their ideas in the digital format of today’s connectedness. I think we need both. I think Denise’s comment is an example — she let her “stream of consciousness” discover important ideas about the different purposes for commenting (on photos, in student blogs, part 2 of the conversation). This is how writer’s think through their ideas. Students need this time also, with the added benefit of asking the readers to add to the conversation and discovery, and a chance to develop a personal style and voice. Do you think there’s room for both such formal and informal blogging in our classrooms?

Of course, we always remind students that “Internet writing is your footprint, a path back to you; prepare your path wisely.”

What do you think? Do you think there’s room for both such formal and informal blogging in our classrooms?

Quality Blogging & Commenting Audit Meme

Our students were thrilled this year with an award nomination, and many chose to write thank you comments to our nominator. Most were thoughtful responses that conveyed their appreciation; they wrote from the heart, which gave their writing voice.

Our goal is to write our best, to learn from even our best to improve our writing choices so our ideas are clear and concise.

Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano at Langwitches  invites us to evaluate our work to improve.

With that in mind, I reread several comments and wrote a sample one, a model to use with students. Using an anchor or model is a teaching strategy recommended to help improve writing.  With a model comment ready, I evaluated it based on a rubric. The rubric helps us to break down our writing so we can see the parts we did well and and the parts where we can improve.

The rubric (from Langwitches)


The model comment:

Dear Mrs. Nominator,

Thank you for nominating our blog. We are very proud and exited to be nominated for an award. Our class enjoys blogging because we can share ideas with other people. For instance, we can read and share with other students in the world. We learned to take notes and stuff and we learned strategies for ideas so we can write our own blog posts.  Finally, thank you again for nominating us!

Parts Done Well

Writing and Voice:

The paragraph was somewhat organized, adding voice by including feelings (very proud and excited [exited]) and details (“share ideas with other people”). The words chosen are an attempt to bring the content to life (“take notes and stuff” “can write our own blog posts”). Sentence fluency is mostly achieved (“For instance” “Finally”).


Connected to the post and added “simple” additions (“share ideas with other people” “we can read and share with other students in the world” “learned strategies for ideas” “own blog posts”), which shows the beginning evidence of knowledge/content.


Only a few spelling, sentence, and grammar errors restrict the flow of reading ( “exited” “take notes and stuff and we learned strategies”).


Therefore this comment flows between a 2 capable and 3 accomplished, which is a thoughtful response.


Parts to Improve:

To move to expert level on the rubric, the writer could:

Writing and Voice:

Write more than one paragraph which is organized into ideas, each followed by details of explanation. To add style, descriptions, imagery, or figurative language would add voice and interest. For instance — how proud were you? When I’m proud I feel light like a butterfly or warm like the sun. That would make the feeling “memorable, and bring the comment to life.”


Details were provided, and needed explanations; “stuff” could be explained with examples or experiences. For example, “take notes and summaries on our research to assist the composing of our posts” and “we learned strategies for ideas, such using our Google Docs organizer so we include details.” A link to those sample organizer, to sample notes/summaries would have added to the content, clarity, and relevant resources for the reader.


As indicated, the rubric helps us to break down our writing into parts, but good writing is not parts; it’s the meaning communicated to an audience for a purpose.

Donald Murray once said, “Writing is hard fun.” It’s hard to develop an idea thoroughly. It’s hard to add original ideas with a personal voice. It’s hard to go back and add details and voice. It’s hard to go back again and edit for spelling, grammar, and clarity. But when our writing is good— when a response is given back, that is fun, a feeling of satisfaction.

Even though students have the lessons and resources: figurative languageelaboration strategies, revision, and practice, writing is hard.

For this model, practicing the parts of writing brought it to capable  and almost through accomplished on the rubric. It was written to the audience for the purpose of expressing thanks. With more practice, this will improve to expert.

To continue this “audit meme,” I tag Denise KrebsAmy Cobb, and Tracy Watanabe to add to Silvia’s meme at Langwitches to help students and teachers improve the online blog and comment discourse.  Please use models (anchors) so we can all learn and practice from them.

For our class, we’re going to set one goal each, based on a self-assessment of our work. What one “part” would you recommend writers start practicing? What part of writing is hard for you, and what strategies do you use to overcome it? How do you know you’ve improved? How would you audit a post or comment?