Our Collective Year (2008) in a Sentence

By now, some of us may be tiring of looking back on 2008 and reflecting on what we learned. Others may be just beginning that process. Here at Day in a Sentence, we shifted gears and expanded our scope, and participants worked to boil down their past year into a single sentence. Not easy, and not everyone kept it to within a sentence. That’s OK. This project is not about the rules, but about the connections.

I want to say that there were more than 40 submissions for Year in a Sentence. Wow. I am deeply honored to be part of this journey with all of you.

I will start with my own sentence. Like so many others, I was struck by how much my networks have expanded outward and how supportive these environments have become. There is a sense of welcoming in the digital world of educators that is heartening to experience. You can listen to my sentence as a podcast.

The reach of my digital world has continued to expand outward as new tools were uncovered, new friends and colleagues discovered, and I pushed myself as a writer into different directions.

Ben D. had a real milestone this year … the birth of a child. I imagine that has kept him a bit busy in 2008. So, he provides us with some visual evidence (and the evidence is cute as pie)

It has been the most amazing year of my life.
I watched my son go



Ben was not alone in the Birth of a Child Department. Nancy, too, has been experiencing the wonders of parenthood. She knows that the center of her universe right now is that little soul. As it should be.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, my year can be summed up like this: “baby baby baby.” LOL

Tracy is coming to accept that change is part of life. I know change was the Presidential Campaign buzzword (isn’t it always when it comes to political contests?) but many of us are hoping the changes ahead are powerful in good ways.

Change is sweet and, though I fight against it with all my might, when I accept it I become more of myself.

Cheryl O. notes the many connections she has in life, thanks to technology. I love the last bit of her sentence about closing out the day while others are beginning.

A look back to what 2008 has meant: twitter begins my day with a myriad of articles to read, shoutouts to virtual friends near and far, experimenting with new tools; animoto, flip video, keynoting k12online, webcasting SEEDLINGS, and twitter closes my day saying goodnight to some and good morning to others.

My friend, Gail P., has immersed herself into the journey of discovery this year and is doing some amazing things with her young students. She’s like a sponge, soaking up experiences and thinking about the possibilities.

The past year reminds me of a ride at a theme park.

We get some momentum going and enjoy the little surprise experiences along the way, some exciting, others no so much, and in the end we may clap with delight but can only remember snippets of the experience.

Now if I could just remember half of what I’ve experienced, tried on, explored, I would be in great shape. It would be a good idea to record every bit of technology I mess around with so I can call upon it again in the future and not just scratch my head in wonderment. We have a google doc along those lines at school that I could drop stuff into. Never in this life will I be able to manage the task anything like Larry Ferlazzo does.

All in all, Delaine had a good year, even as headlines shook the world. May 2009 continue in the same vein for her and for all of us.

Although a year of financial disaster for so many, we were blessed with good fortune, good fun, and good friends in 2008.

Anne M. experienced the “power of the blog” on many levels. It sounds like a scary horror movie — The Blog! — but it’s not. It’s about forging in new directions.

What started as a ‘backyard’ blog, grew into teacher, class, student and a school blog(s), sharing and connecting with the globe, working on collaborative projects with many countries and experiencing powerful learning outcomes for me, the students, staff and even parents.

Janice gave my new Day in a Sentence theme song some kudos, and it reminded her of an elementary teacher who used to bring in a guitar and play with the class from time to time. I had fun writing the new theme song and found it useful to approach the network from a musical stance. Thanks for your comment, Janice. She writes this week about a fork in the road that she came up again and what she did (no, she didn’t pick the fork up).

A decision, which turned out horrifically wrong, led to a second much scarier decision, which resulted in an unexpectedly wonderful experience, and convinced me that taking a chance, and hanging everything on hope and luck, can sometimes work.

Lynn J. hopes 2009 trumps 2008.

Hmmm, 2008 was not my favorite year…it was probably just a setup for the fabulous one that began today.

Perhaps Elona is of the same mind as Lynn. She notes that she is inspired by Dickens.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

David noted he was bopping to the Day in a Sentence theme song (cool) and then shares this magical sentence that has a real poetic beauty to it.

I found between the bells ringing in each year, a silence that is also language, a shared language.

Drew used the opportunity to look ahead more than look behind and his wish for the year is one that I can relate to. And I imagine, so can you.

My year will be one in which I show more appreciation for what is around me: people, places, things and *myself* and I’ll be sharing what I can at every opportunity.

Mary F. noted that the national stage (and international stage?) was filled with too many idiots looking out for only themselves and not for the unfortunate in the world. (I used ‘idiot,’ not Mary). Luckily, Mary could fall back on a loving and strong family to support her.

My 2008 was filled with grace from my family, friends and fellow travelers as we plodded together through the mire of deceit, cruelty, and greed from our so-called leaders to find a spark of honor and hope as we begin a new journey with eyes open wide.

Mary Lee admitted to some intimidation to the task of reflecting within the confines of a single sentence. Her words remind us that the unknown is with us on so many levels. But the optimism for the future flows out from her sentence, too.

This is the year that put cancer ten years behind me.

Ken wrote me some thoughts on the theme song, saying it sound a bit like The Ventures or the Get Smart theme song. I can live with that. 🙂 He also composed an epic sentence. Try reading it out loud without taking a breath. And then chuckle at Ken’s wonderful way with words.

Well, I must say, it’s been a year with a difference, this year has, what with blogging, which I enjoyed, and my daughter finishing high school, which I celebrated and she’s really bright, not to mention winning the prize for sculpture, which I’ve just done, and going to uni this year to study sculpture, and I won’t bore you with all the great things she can do but she takes after her father, and me walking again and being restructured at work and surviving it – the unbelievable-hope-it-never-happens-again-stuff-like-you-wouldn’t-want-to-know-stuff-and-that’s-life-as-a-school-teacher-stuff, and who would have it any other way, but a school teacher who’s stupid enough to start blogging when he’s two gold watches short of retirement and even at his age and experience has a hard time writing about it all in one sentence, because – for goodness sake – he’s to pack a whole year of experiences, that is successes, celebrations, achievements, failures and disappointments, deaths births and marriages, not to mention advancing old age, all between a capital letter and a full stop.

Bonnie is still finding new adventures for herself, pushing the boundaries in many directions. I know she is looking forward to the Obama transition and the idea of change (or at least, of sweeping Bush out of office before he does more damage).

A fresh new year! I just read a post on Bud Hunt’s blog about 365/2009,(http://flickr.com/groups/366photos/) a Flickr group that shares a new photo every day. I just sent one over.

I have high hopes for 2009: A new president in the White House and a promise of fresh web challenges here.

Connie notes how literature allows her to reflect and make note of what is important in life.

It all came together for me at year’s end when I read E.B. White, T.S. Eliot, and Stanley Kunitz on the same day; they reminded me of the earthen groundedness of life, and how life is spun up with time.

Aram is on an adventure, with many miles traveled and many more to go …

I traveled over 10,000 miles this year, the best part being Paris and London with the family, and — especially if you include my hyperspace travels — I’d say I’m learning at a rate of about one new idea a mile.

The downs and ups of life for Cyndi has clearly presented a fair share of difficult hurdles and yet, she ends her thoughts on an optimistic note. The future, after all, is always ahead and peppered with possibilities.

2008-Turned 55, husband passed away afet 10 year battle with kidney cancer, daughter graduated from college and moved to New York City, Son got married and moved to Kansas City, took a new position at Kansas State University, went for 50 students a semester to 150, so moved to Manhattan, Kansas, bought a new house, made some new friends and started a new life adventure.

So, it has been a bit of a chaotic year for Michaele, too. And like so may of us, she hold out hope for 2009.

2008, you were full of relocations, packing, unpacking, unemployment, employment, heat, wind, dirt, sandstorms, new and old friends and routines, rainstorms, hail, laughter, stress, family, and self discovery…hopefully 2009 will see a drop-off in the relocations, stress and sandstorms, not that I’m picky!

Liza has found her stride as a teacher and that feels good.

When you are a new teacher, going through an induction program, you are told quite a bit that what you are experiencing is normal, typical, even and that information is both comforting and irritating, so I shouldn’t be surprised that I am both comfortably and irritatingly finding this year to be the one in which I am reaching my stride . . . finishing my induction year, heading for tenure, achieving better work/life balance, and actually able to raise my head and take a look around me as I’m getting it all done.

Julia notes the movement into leadership this past year. For many of us, that is a huge leap that can pay great dividends (not usually the financial kind, alas, but the other kind).

From different dimensions and aspects of life, health, educational networks, leadership, and service, this year, for me, has been about moving from the sidelines to participating in the “game” of life.

Amy K. knows that 2008 was a challenge. But how she has grown as a result of those challenges is the heart of her reflection.

2008 was year for increased challenges and demands professionally and personally, but I seem to have come through unscathed (hopefully I have grown but who really knows?)

sara‘s sentence reads like a living list. Cue Bob Dylan and read it fast.

slush, dizziness, silly nicknames, turning 29, snow days, budgeting, administrators from hell, robins, cuddling, watermelon italian ice, organic nursery, end of school!, sunshine, jogging, slip ‘n slide party, biking, teaching just writing : ), poetry, h.s. football, hoodies, diner mac ‘n cheese, great teaching team, mike’s surgery, master’s, stress, women’s tackle football, christmas, tropical new year’s party… and it’s 2009! whew.

Short and sweet. That is Lisa C. for this one.

What? Another year over?

That is how I feel about this year: Too fast!

The doorways are central to Kate‘s reflections. May they open wide for you, Kate.

Challenge, inspiration and delight from new and old ways, faces, places – doors closing and opening near and far.

Harold not only shares out some thinking about last year but also adds in a few thoughts for this new year, too. Keep running, Harold, and stay healthy.

One word would summarize it nicely – Change.

I started the year as a special education teacher and half-way through became an AmeriCorps Grants program officer, which was a definite change of focus and an injury that didn’t heal until recently, so I got fatter.

Goal for next year in one sentence:

Run 20 miles a week by August, keep learning requirements of new job, write more comments on people’s blogs and spend quality time with family.

Marg sees the connections everywhere. And that is good.

2008 was a sensational year of virtual travel, growing social networks and meeting some inspiring cyberspace friends.

Lynn C. brings a little math into the equation. And the numbers all point towards optimism, right? (let me hear y’all say, Yeah!)

Formula for 2009 from a non-math person: Crisis seems >but is actually < human creativity which may = sustainable solutions! And a much hoped for Happy New Year!

Larry comes clean. I can relate. Mistakes, yes, and then a few more. But all of it we learn from (if we are lucky).

To paraphrase an old community organizing adage, I made a lot of mistakes, learned from them, and then went out and made bigger ones :)

Gail D. continues to move into new directions, but she remains grounded in working with teachers and students on important issues.

In a year constantly overshadowed by economic uncertainty, I treasure the bright spots, such as shared moments and walks with NWP colleagues (e.g., Holocaust Memorial Library Summer Institute), opportunities to work directly with teachers and students ( e.g., EETT grant group), and family and friends to share the New Year with.

Amy gets off the ride. I hope she isn’t too dizzy.

A roller coaster year is completed!

Phil remains open to what others have to offer.

This old dog learned a few new tricks with a little bit of help from his friends.

One small step took Kerry into an ever-building network that she now uses for support and information and ideas.

I started off looking for more effective ways to consume information and ended up with a network of friends, colleagues and field researchers.

There is a mix of emotions for Justine. Finding the balance is the hard part, right?

Extremely challenging personally; professionally exciting and exhilarating.

Mr. Woody is in a celebratory mood for the year that has passed. May 2009 bring him and you and all of us more reasons to shout: Huzzah!

A great year of super happenings – many thanks to all my friends, loved ones, colleagues and passing acquaintances of the positive variety


The roller coaster theme also emerged (with a scream?) from Sue W., who noted that 2008 was full of the unexpected.

Amazing roller coaster which took me on an unimaginable adventure leading to an interesting change in direction by the end of 2008!

TDawg (love her nickname) hopes to bring some California warmth to New England. Hey, friend, pack it up and send it my way.

Ending the year with a family visit to California infused me with enough love, hope, and sunlight to endure another endless New England winter.

Speaking of weather, here is Cynthia (if you listen closely, you can hear her wonderfully melodic southern United States accent — says the guy from New England).

There is a saying in Mississippi; if you don’t like our weather, just hang around; it won’t be long before it changes, so as I reflect on 2008, I realize my year was just like the weather in Mississippi–changeable: hot and humid, rainy, chilly, hot and humid, “Gustav” windy and rainy (that’s putting it mildly :) ), chilly, frosty, hot and humid, snowy (for one whole day!), warm, and just plain hot and humid.

Happy New Year! Kevin, you constantly raise the envelope and push me to try new venues. Thanks.

Art has a reflection that hopefully will point to progress for the months ahead. L’et’s hope the air gets cleared and he moves on to some understanding.

Some unpleasant revelations led to issues being aired and problems getting worked on.

And Nina tried to find balance amidst the ups and downs the year (another roller coaster ride, I suppose).

2008 was for me a combination of thrilling (Democrats sweeping the elections, our first multiracial president) and very sad (deaths of six relatives and friends).

Thank you for being on this journey with me. I appreciate your words and thoughts and I hope, if you are new to Day in a Sentence, that you continue with us from time to time and connect with the network of folks who reflect and connect.

And I leave you with one last image — I put all of our Year in a Sentence contributions into Wordle (one of my favorite applications of last year) and created this collage (I love how friends and new and year are all out in front):

Peace (in sharing),

PS — if you still want to add your sentence, please use the comment link on this post and share away. It’s not too late.

  1. Kevin, you are a true gem and a merit to the idea of sharing voices (take this as literally as you like 🙂 )
    I have enjoyed contributing, and reading the whole year through, sometimes more active than others. Not wanting to be left out, here’s my late contribution:

    2008 was a year of friendship and family, making new friends while strengthening other bonds, using those wonderful internet connections to keep in contact with my far-away son, while worrying about the health of my mother-in-law in her fight against cancer. The last couple months of the year have forced me to become very focused.

  2. I am reading all the great year-end sentences while sitting at the seaside town of Cayucos on the central coast of California. We have been joined here for a few days by our daughter and son-in-law. I don’t return to class until the 12th, so it’s one last hurrah before the new semester. Thanks for the good read.

  3. Hi Kevin, Thank you so much for hosting ‘day in a sentence’ over 2008. I have loved being a participant in it and you have some wonderful ideas which add variety and continued interest. It is hard work but each week you keep us all connected in this great activity. I have made so many connections through it. Hope you continue in 2009 and look forward to continued sharing with you and the other particpants.

  4. I’d like to add my thanks in with Anne’s here Kevin.

    2008 was a great year for me, and when it gets down to blogging, you were in fact the very first blogger who wrote a comment on my new blog that “looks so shiny!” It is historical! But watching what you do with your Boolean Squared and all the organising with Day in a Sentence (not an easy task I’m sure) it is impressive.

    You have kept us all together with words of encouragement, sentences of pleasure and days, weeks and months of enjoyment.

    Kia ora Kevin!

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