Week 8 – 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge

This post is week 8 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators.


I have gained knowledge in teaching English to speakers of other languages. I read and applied Paul Nation’s work in Teaching ESL/EFL Reading and Writing and Teaching ESL/EFL Speaking and Listening. I am working to apply the learnings in my tutoring and lesson preparation to focus on meaningful and attainable content, equally dividing instruction time between four areas:

  • meaning-focused input
  • meaning-focused output
  • language-focused learning
  • fluency practice


I had to learn so much technology last year. I have always been a leader in educational technology, but I, and all my colleagues, took leaps and bounds in our knowledge and application of technology resources to be able to continue teaching. I wrote a little more about technology skills learned here in Week 4.

In addition, I have grown in lots of other skills that have helped me stay grounded in all this at home time–poetry, sourdough bread baking, using spices, and blogging. I’ve even begun to crochet more.


I would like to think that my attitude softened, became more understanding and loving and patient with my students and the parents who have worked so hard during this long chapter. The corona virus has made us all fatigued. I hope and pray that I have become better and more empathetic. Of course, working part-time during the past year has probably made the most difference in my attitude!

Holy Curiosity: Encountering Jesus’ Provocative Questions

Are you being willfully stupid? is just one of the interesting questions Jesus asked when he lived on earth. The book Holy Curiosity: Encountering Jesus’ Provocative Questions has been challenging and blessing me over the past few weeks. I’m reading and discussing a chapter each week with some family members. Lately the chapters have inspired us to also write poems. The chapters, each with a different question, include:

    • Who condemns you?
    • Why are you afraid?
    • How much bread do you have?
    • Are you being willfully stupid?
    • My God, why have you abandoned me?
    • Are you confused?
    • Do you believe this?
    • Why do you doubt?
    • What do you want?

From the chapter “My God, why have you forsaken me?” with a quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning: “Earth’s crammed with heaven” I wrote this golden shovel poem.

A Golden Shovelful of Heaven

the mystery of sweet earth’s

bliss and beauty is still crammed

full of crude confusion, with

scandalous prayers to heaven

From this week’s chapter, “Are you confused?”, I created a found poem, this type called a zentangle, based on the following page of text from the book. I was struck with the use of the word incarnate both as an adjective (Jesus, the Incarnate One) and verb (We are to incarnate Jesus.).  Wow!

But what if Jesus came, not to keep us from hell, but to invite us into hell? What if Jesus came to invite us to enter, with him, into the terrors of brokenness and sin and misery in our world? In the scandal of the Incarnation, Jesus took on human form and immersed himself into his world spun off course. On the cross, he was drenched in our sin. During his three days entombed in darkness, many traditions teach that Jesus descended into the depths of Hades to confront Satan and his hordes. If we as God’s people are now called to incarnate Jesus in our world, how could we possibly think Jesus’ ultimate aim is to make sure we are always comfortable, that we get our piece of the American dream?
Jesus invites us into the reality of his work, bringing redemption to the earth and speaking revolutionary Jesus-life to a dead, broken world.

Collier, Winn (2009) Holy Curiosity: Encountering Jesus’ Provocative Questions Paperback, Baker Books. Kindle Edition.

Incarnate Jesus
Jesus to invite
Us into hell,
Into terror of brokenness.
Scandal of Incarnation–
Drenched in our sin
Entombed in darkness
Descended into the depths
Called to incarnate
Jesus, our ultimate aim.
Jesus-life to a
Broken world

From the same chapter, “Are You Confused?”, Collier quotes Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Here are the words spoken by Petrovich that touched me: “fling yourself straight into life without deliberation; don’t be afraid.” That quote along with a story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water in Matthew 14:25-33 inspired this golden shovel poem:

To Peter
How long do I have left in this life to fling
Open the door of doubt for myself? How did you give yourself
Permission to balter straight
Into walking on the sea and into
A fearless and direct life?
A life of joy and singularity without
Standing around for deliberation
About whether you do or don’t
Have enough faith to be
Free to live, believe, and love–not afraid.

Fill the Well

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org, 27 July 2021

Fill the well.
A human being.
Human doing can wait awhile.

I’ve had a couple of busy weeks, and today I am relaxing and taking time to be.

One thing I did to start my day, though, was watch a video from Kate Messner for Teacher’s Write. I’m glad I went back to this Week 2 event and watched the recording because I wasn’t able to join for the live event. Authors Linda Sue Park, Linda Urban, Tracey Baptiste and Jen Vincent joined  Kate Messner to share specific ways to experience that grace and filling the well of our beings after a difficult year.


This chapter about the Juneteenth celebration at Galveston Island has helped me walk further along a new path of truth in America’s history. This passage, written by a young black man, also speaks to me, an older white woman, who learned history in a similar way with white-washing and lies to hide the deeper truths of white supremacy that people didn’t want to say aloud. We are also seeing it in our lived day-to-day history in this, the 21st century.

I watched these young people read to the audience parts of history that placed our country in context. I felt, in that moment, envious of them. Had I known when I was younger what some of these students were sharing, I felt as if I would have been liberated from a social and emotional paralysis that for so long I could not name—a paralysis that had arisen from never knowing enough of my own history to effectively identify the lies I was being told by others: lies about what slavery was and what it did to people; lies about what came after our supposed emancipation; lies about why our country looks the way it does today. I had grown up in a world that never tired of telling me and other Black children like me all of the things that were wrong with us, all of the things we needed to do better. But not enough people spoke about the reason so many Black children grow up in communities saturated with poverty and violence. Not enough people spoke about how these realities were the result of decisions made by people in power and had existed for generations before us.

Smith, Clint. (2021) How the Word Is Passed, Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.


For so long
arisen from history
lies told about slavery
lies about our country
Not enough people
spoke about
realities of power
for generations before us

I’m trying to find a balance in how to read these rich chapters. For the first few chapters, I highlighted things I wanted to remember on my Kindle. This time I took notes in a journal. After three pages of notes and two poems, I was still only half finished with the chapter. Hmmm…I’ll keep trying.


Poetry Friday – A Striving Spanish Sonnet

It’s Friday! Time for Poetry Friday. Thank you to Kat Apel, who is hosting. You will be rewarded with goodness if you stop by and read her sweet snail and clever cat poems. She even started a new hashtag #petpicpoem. Alas, there are no pets in my house, but I may consider a snail pet.

This week I had to go back to last September’s Google Classroom archive and watch a first quarter sixth grade lesson at my school. I was doing research to see what pre-skills I need to include in my summer tutoring for a student going into grade 6 at our school next year. In the first and only lesson so far that I’ve watched, the students were writing a sonnet! There were my former fifth grade babies. Yikes! I know for a fact some of them were struggling quietly with that assignment, but as I looked around the Zoom room, I realized that many of them were also flourishing in this experience.

What was the hardest form I asked my students to write last year? I wondered. We wrote free verse, haikus, acrostics, metaphor poems, Fibonacci poems, and couplets. Some others too, but nothing as scary as a sonnet. I thought about my own sonnet experience. Can I even write a sonnet, I wondered? The last one I remember writing was in ninth grade. So, after watching that lesson, I wrote this sonnet. (If it even is! Haha! I didn’t even consider meter.)

Learning Spanish on Duolingo
Language learning is not easy
Duolingo helps me realize
Just how much my brain is breezy
True expression, my fancied prize
Even when I spend hours in study
I only make a pinch of progress
What’s missing is talking with a buddy
For now, Duo is the one I impress
I can buy a red dress: barato or caro
I can find a baño and get a table for dos
But could I help in one’s sorrow?
Would I ever speak to get close?
But like the tortoise, steady and slow,
I’ll build a foundation on which to grow

Today’s Poetry Friday host is Kathryn Apel at her blog, Thank you, Kat!