Day in A Sentence/Comment Challenge Reflection

Since I have been blog-deep in the 31-Day Comment Challenge — visiting sites and engaging in discussions — I think it only fitting that this week’s call for Days in a Sentence go out to not only the DayinS faithful but also any folks moving through here as part of the Comment Challenge. After all, the sentence is a comment. (And my reflections on my commenting activities is down below)

Here is how Day in a Sentence works:

  • You reflect on your week or a day in your week
  • You boil it all down to a single sentence
  • You use the comment feature on this post to share your sentence
  • On Sunday, I gather them all up, write some quick introductions and share out as a community of writing/reflecting educators (and associates)

Please consider this your invitation to take part in Day in a Sentence and feel free to read through some of our archives to get a sense of the richness of the sharing that can take place. The Day in a Sentence also regularly heads off to guest blogs, so if you are interested in taking the helms one week, just let me know.

Here is my sentence and you can listen to the podcast version:

From the Goo Goo Dolls to Green Day to the Sofa Kings and my own song with a missing verse, my classroom was a rockin’, songwritin’, dancin’ kind of place this week, and Jack Black would have been proud.

Peace (in words),

PS — Today’s activity for the Comment Challenge is to consider some lessons learned by the act of expanding our commenting activities.

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Here are some of my reflections:

  • It turns out that I love Co-Comment as a way to track comments. I now realize just how much I have been missing in conversations. I am able to follow the comments of others, add my own thoughts, come back and see what has been added. It no longer feels like a paintball tournament, where everyone is just shooting scatter-shot into the wind. I am not so fond of the ads, as I have stated before, but I can live with it for now. I love that Co-Comment gives me a little indicator at the bottom of my browser when a blog post where I have already commented has been updated. That is a lifesaver.
  • I am coming to understand more and more how many different circles of bloggers there are out there, and it is cool to see them periodically overlap (through events like the Comment Challenge). We all have our friends but it is so intriguing to stumble into a network of others and realize they have been at it, too, and now there are some cross-connections taking place. It’s not that I felt as if me and the blogs I follow were the only ones, but still, it is eye-opening to find other groups of people engaged in similar conversations. I had this same experience one day when I came across The Two Writing Teachers site and realized what great work they were doing and how they were also building a sense of a writing community outside of my traditional radar. How many other communities of teacher-writers are out there, I wonder?
  • It occurs to me that we are all so lucky that there are so many people willing to give their time for projects such as these. I look at the Comment Challenge Wiki, and I know there is a group of wonderful people involved in this, keeping the project moving along and thinking and reflecting upon it, and encouraging others to do the same. Just think what a gift that is. The webbed world could have easily been different (and could still take a turn, I suppose). It is a place where people share, collaborate and support each other. I am grateful for the organizers of Comment Challenge and I realize how remiss I have been in mentioning who they are. So, without further ado, I send out some personal kudos to the organizers of the Comment Challenge:

Day in a Sentence gets released

This week’s Day in a Sentence was a low-traffic affair. Perhaps you are all busy, or wandering elsewhere, or just not all that interested in VoiceThread. It’s OK. I understand. I hope to have your words back this coming week when Day in a Sentence returns to its traditional form of a sentence, and nothing but a sentence.

At least one person, Stacey, had a heck of a time with VoiceThread and she got plenty of frustrated, which makes me feel sad since I want to have us explore new technology but not to the point of tossing the computer out the window. (I’m sorry, Stacey). If you had problems with VoiceThread, can you let me know?

Stacey’s last email to me could have been her sentence: “Literally gets stuck on the screen.” I think that sums up her Day in a Sentence VoiceThread experience. Bah.

But some of you made it through and here are your sentences:
And, believe it or not, you can still add in a thought, if the inspiration strikes. I am keeping this VoiceThread open.

Peace (in reflection),

Converting VoiceThread to Video

I experimented for the first time with converting a VoiceThread into a video file, using the new feature over at VoiceThread. The process cost me three dollars, but if you have a paid VoiceThread account, I believe you get a few of these for free. The VT comes back at you as a Quicktime movie, and it is interesting to see how it looks in this different format.

I uploaded it into Google Video, but the darkness and shrinking of the screen does not do justice to the video that I received from VoiceThread. I also notice that Google Video no longer allows you to adjust the size of the screen (look how tiny it is!). Next time, I should use TeacherTube or YouTube, perhaps. Oh well.

My idea is to archive any of the Day in a Sentence VoiceThreads that we have done and so here is one from February 2008.

Speaking of Day in a Sentence and VoiceThread, the invitation is still open for you to boil your day or week down into a sentence and share it out via this week’s VoiceThreaded Day in a Sentence. (You can also use the comment feature either at this post or the initial post from a few days ago, if VoiceThread is not your thing)Peace (in sharing),

Day in Sentence: VoiceThreading It

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This week’s Day in a Sentence meme is moving onto the VoiceThread platform, which allows us to embed our voice, and even webcam video, as part of our weekly reflective sharing. I hope you will consider joining us. You will need to have a VoiceThread Account, but it is worth it — this application is easy to use and has wonderful possibilities.

If the thought of moving into a different platform just gives you a headache, then feel free to use the comment feature on this post, and I will later copy your words into the VoiceThread, so that you can still be part of the group conversation.

Anyone, and everyone, is invited to participate. I will re-release the VoiceThread, with any additional comments, on Sunday.

Peace (in a week of peace),

Day in a Hyperbole, over at Ben’s Place

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It was the most amazing thing.

Out of nowhere, I received this call on my bluetoothed-gamma-radiation-brain-a-ma-phone from Radio Earth, asking if I would be willing to be interviewed about the plans by the global government to use the concept of Day in a Sentence on an intergalactic mission now being planned for next year.

You may not have heard about the latest development of Day in a Sentence, but our community of writers may soon include beings from another world, another language, another …. oh heck, so I get carried away with my introductions.

This week, Ben B. is taking over the Day and he wants you to use some exaggeration in your reflection as he brings us in a potentially strange and humorous direction: Your Day in Hyperbole.

Go ahead and fib all you want. Ben encourages your creativity and he only asks that you avoid some of the more standard words to fluff up your otherwise mundane day (I know that isn’t true, but now I am working on reverse-hyperbole). See his blog for more details.

I’m trying think up my own Big Whopper.

Please head to Ben’s blog called Awaiting Tenure

Peace (in tall tales),

Your Days in Poems


Such a pleasure to have such wonderful treasures to share. Your days as poems were just wonderful and inspiring, and I thank you so much for the gifts this week.

Without further ado, here are your poems and other assortments:

Karen, my NWP friend, found some good news in her pocket this week.

Good news came today
A family reunion
Is coming my way!

Cheryl was finally able to put away the longjohns as Spring finally came to Maine.

sunny days, warm temps
turning winter snow to spring corn snow
no mittens, but sunglasses
no longjohns, but pants
skis turning on little ball bearings
turning to mash potatoes

Elona used a nice rhythm in her poem and it reminds her (and me) of all the things that need a-fixin’ now that the snow has melted and the seasons have changed.

the mourning doves have built their nest in the light fixture on the porch
the daffodils are up and their buds are bursting with pride to bloom
The grass along the fence in the back yard is a beautiful green
the cycle of life has begun anew

Amy has been part of the group who have been writing and publishing poems all week over Two Writing Teachers and I am so glad to have her here. I am also happy to report that, unlike the last two weeks, Amy did not get caught in my spam filter. You made it through!

A week of poems
Recipes, couplets, senryus
Whirling in my mind

Amy adds: Thanks to all the kind comments and inspiration from everyone at Two Writing Teachers Blog! Thanks also to you for hosting Day in a Sentence. I appreciate the opportunities to inspire my writing.

One of those Two Writing Teachers, Stacey, joins us this week in Day in a Sentence. And although she has been writing beautiful poetry all week, she decided to make her first foray here as a sentence (which is perfectly fine) about her holiday preparations.

We spent hours searching for the napkins we’re positive we bought, but in the end, we had to land up buying new ones for our Passover Table.

Sara, an inspiring teacher but probably a good pain in the butt for most administrators (I say that with friendship, knowing her as I do), provides us this poetic and engaging entry into her world.

after my neophyte years of teaching,
you know, when i was five,
and my kindergarten classmates stared
at me with the panicky eyes of the poorly taught,
hissing, “sara, what do i do here?”
gesturing at the purple mimeograph copy
with L word pictures on it,

i’d point at the directions,
leadingly whisper,
“it has something to do with L words,”
and then bear the wrath
of mrs. kirby,
shrieking across the room from
her desk,
“sara, keep your eyes on your own work!”

since then, i’ve been a good teacher
and endured the stupidity of my
current educational authority
with less than subtlety,
i guess.
i intimidate,
i know.

so the best gift, manna for
the big-eyed teachers under my
shrieking principals
who are
their desks,
is the Principals’ Report Cards
i found in my mailbox today.

Due April 30th,
Comments Appreciated.

and anonymous.

i’ll tell you this –
very few L words will be used.

Ben B. (who will host Day in a Sentence next week) proves his mettle at couplets with this poem about his uncertain future:

I was first offered a job at Podunk-BFE
I then figured that it was the place for me.
Still, I’m unsure at which district I should get tied.
I interviewed well at White Kids’ Unified

Jane, a blogging colleague from Slice of Life and other adventures, has just about had it with her computer. You may recognize the love-hate relationship with tech that most of us go through in the lines of her poem.

The computer is
my friend and my enemy.
No hugs for this week.

Bonnie has been exploring hypertextual composition this week, exploring the unknown territory, and she shares this reflection and poem. I love the poem because it is about her guitar and it made me pull out my guitar for a few strums.

This was a great week for flexing my poetry writing muscle, thanks to the challenge set down by Stacey, at her Two Writing Teachers site. I wondered if I was up to the challenge and then hypertext found its way to my screen, a la Twitter and Paul Allison’s TTT. All the stars collided and with KH’s support I tried something new and exciting on the Hypertextopia site. Here’s a poetry slice from the larger piece. What fun!

In Guitarland

“My guitar sits next to me
Silent, patient, waiting

Guilty, I continue to keep
her close,
but untouched.

I am planted in my chair
using my calloused fingertips to click away

Why don’t I power down and
lift her from her dormant sadness?

We would both be happier
collaborating in music”

And here is a podcast of her piece(be patient — the first 8 seconds are silence)

Liza looks into the work of teachers with questions.

Seeing other teachers work
fills me with inspiration
But will it be worth being gone?

On a beautiful day like today, I send some of the sunshine and warmth to a friend, Illya, whose poem wonders where it has gone.

April weather
It rains
It snows
The sun shines and the wind blows
I long for warmth
where are you spring?

Jo had a haiku up her sleeve about a good teaching strategy.

A thirty-percent
increase in lit. terms quiz grades
says the flash cards work.

Jo then explains: My colleagues in the social studies department have been getting their students to make flash cards for information they need to know all year (and maybe before, but this is my first year working here), and I recently started doing the same with mine. All of those pesky literary terms the kids need to know in order to analyze the literature they read are usually not the most fun thing to learn. But with the flash cards, my students have been really getting into it!

They actually have fun making them and have fun using them to quiz each other. I haven’t even had to lecture about where-are-your-flash-cards. They have them! And, like my haiku says in a not-so-poetic way, the quiz grades have improved dramatically. And the reading-analysis discussions have been so much more lively! =)

I was most happy that some folks who expressed such reservations at poetry gave it a try anyway. I hope the freedom to create whatever you wanted got you writing in a new way. Anne M., for example, says she almost passed on contributing this week, but gave way to this four line gem.

Mine was a week online learning driven
With elluminate used for pd sharing
Parents to be interviewed and verbal reports given
Blogs shown to them for student sharing

I would like to leave you with one more thing. On Friday, my class worked on Haikus and we created a podcast for our class weblog (The Electronic Pencil) and so I wanted to share some of their voices with you. Some of the poems were very traditional and some were a bit silly (you’ll hear the pronounced giggle from one student at the very start as she wrote about some inside joke about sunglasses).

Here they are: Student Haiku Podcast

Peace (in rich collaboration),

Calling for Days in a Poem

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In honor of National Poetry Month, this week’s Day in a Sentence is hereby converted into Day in a Poem. You are invited to boil down your day or your week into a poem of any choosing, including freestyle (so, technically, a sentence might still work, particularly if you were creative with your formatting).

I invite anyone and everyone to participate, including my friends from the One Week Poetry Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers. I would love to see some of those folks join our Day in a Sentence community, too.

Please use the comment feature on this post to submit your words. I will collect and protect them all until Sunday, when I shall release them to the world.

I decided to write my poem as a Haiku, inspired by a complete lack of sleep last night due to cries from inside the house (bad dreams) and outside the house (a fischer cat attack, I think), plus our happy cat who purred most of the night (prob glad he was not outside when the attack took place). Meanwhile, this is an incredibly busy day — we have our Quidditch Championship all day today, the kids have baseball practice until nightfall, and then I agreed to go on Teachers Teaching Teachers webcast tonight to talk about hyperlinked composition and student publications.

A night of no sleep
does not bode well for a day
of Quidditch frenzy

Listen to the poem as podcast

Peace (in reflective poetry),

PS — In looking at Two Writing Teachers today, they define a form of poetry called a senryu as sort of like a Haiku, but about human nature. Perhaps I wrote a senryu today and not a Haiku, as it is not about nature.

PSS — Next week, Ben B. will take the helm of Day in … something.

Day in a Sentence, released

This week’s Day in a Sentence was a bit more than a sentence. I suggested that we slice into a period of time and share that out, and many of you took me up on the offer.

Again, I love reading your thoughts and I feel privileged to hold onto the words before releasing them all together. Due to the extensive nature of the writing this week, I don’t feel the need to do my usual introductions. The writing tells the tales.

Without further delay, then:

From Alice (who has offered to host Day in a Sentence next week):

This week was when the ideas and expectations created in the timelessness of Spring Break, ran into the brick wall of tasks and expectations required by my job. In addition, I tried to add an exercise routine into the week (new gym that we joined opened in neighborhood). I discovered that time and energy are finite resources. In addition, fate seemed to conspire against me in that any instance of poor planning on my parts was instantly met with chaos from others, leading to, well this is too nice a blog to use that type of language here). This left me both exhausted, angry, and cranky at the end of the week. Since I still have to get up early for CR 2.0 conversation, and have events at church both days of the weekend, I’m not sure how refreshed I’ll be. Thank goodness Battlestar Gallactica is back so I have some solace for my over-scheduled/planned life.


Great week in that my last two seniors passed the CaHSEE so they can graduate with their class; my two sophomore boys who entered their video in the Career Skills Challenge took third place; and all went smoothly on our fieldtrip to Sacramento. Bad week in that there were too many absences and we learned that our department is being cut by two teachers.


During April and May it is quite difficult to have any continuity in class, especially after lunch, because of all the spring sports my students are involved in. I used to obsess over the loss of class time, but now I just go with the flow, teaching whoever is in class. No use getting my–well, you know–in a wad over something I can’t control. This week has been no exception. So, on Thursday and Friday, putting Macbeth and Julius Caesar aside, I hosted Scrabble tournaments for my English students. I kibitzed, played some, won some, lost some, and learned lots of new words, thanks to our Scrabble dictionary that we allow ourselves to consult when we get strange letters and don’t know what to do with them. The last game of the week ended with Tom-Tom yelling at Todd, “You can’t leave yet. I get one more turn. You were supposed to stop when the bell rang. I have another word to play.” Todd just walked out of the door, ignoring Tom-Tom, who picked up the Scrabble board (so I wouldn’t put it up), and rushed out the door. “Come back. We’ve got to finish this.” Actually, they were finished; Todd was the last player, and it was Tom-Tom who had stalled until the bell rang, thinking Todd would pack up and leave, and he would be declared the winner of one more Scrabble contest. I guess you can tell Tom-Tom does not like to lose at Scrabble, and until this match, one of his major claims to fame was, not only had he beaten Mrs. Cynthia (me) in Scrabble, but, until this last match, he was also the undefeated Scrabble player of Room 13. Well, Tom-Tom, guess you’ll just have to snap out of it. And, besides, there’s always next Thursday to start a new string of wins, or maybe even defeats. I’ll be waiting for you.

Sara P.:

This week was our state tests – 6th grade Math and Reading, three 90-minute sessions each. So our mornings were stuffed with testing, and our afternoons were just 6th-grade-wide free time and recess. It bothers me that our kids are so low, but hopefully the test scores are much better than last year’s. The highlight of the week, though, was just getting to know most of the other 6th graders – we’re self-contained classrooms, so my 24 are my focus most of the time. I also liked making one of the badass kids sit out for hitting another kid, and having him apologize to me when his five minutes was up. “Really? Anthony apologized? He *never* does that for me,” says his regular teacher. I like knowing my take-no-prisoners approach to discipline works!

Jane S.:

Our yard is a war zone for birds. The first casualty was the bluebird kamikaze that flew into our picture window. Today’s victim is the American Goldfinch. A hanging thistle basket, made especially for goldfinch feeding, proves to be a dangerous platform for our hungry comrade. An errant toe is hooked into one of the tiny openings on the mesh basket and he can’t get away. A trickle of blood brings out my rescuing instinct and I call my husband. The wounded is soon released from his prison and we plead armistice but the birds are silent to our truce.

Ben B.:

At least weekly, my sophomores remind me something I apparently shouldn’t forget.

“You aren’t a real teacher.”

Like clockwork. How do I respond to this? They already have it in their very, very little heads that I’m just a student teacher and that, because my master teacher is in the room, that I do not have any authority.

I don’t blame my master teacher. When he isn’t there, they’re worse.


I’m thrilled that this week, after having recently received a large influx of new ninth-graders into my mainstream class, I feel that I’ve finally been successful at getting a good handle on class management. I’m particularly excited that I was able to do this through using much more of a positive and affirming approach instead of a threatening and punishing one. I wonder how class management issues in an inner-city school compare with those in other places?


Wow. Here we are clear across the continent…and my student teacher introduced idioms to (her) my 9th grade class. She wanted them to find the origin of the phrases and rejoice in their interest, but many simply found them sort of silly. Being mostly polite, they withstood her enthusiasm.
I wondered how often idioms become cliche and why that seems to be part of the process.

Meanwhile, AP and 11th are doing research papers which I always use as the opportunity to look for new ideas and sources myself. In my friend Carol Jago’s new book on teaching writing, I discovered a positively wonderful essay entitled “Your Brain on Baseball” by David Brooks. Carol’s book comes with a CD with handouts (how great!) so if you are interested, I could send it. Cheers.


This week my great moment working with a teacher is all about Moodle and creating a drop box. The teacher was totally amazed, as was I, to add this simple tool that can do so much. How great to have a drop box for an assignment that takes the assignment and funnels it through your grading book in Moodle. The teacher’s eyes were sparkling as she realized that all the assignments would now be on her laptop, not the USB key, not in a pile of papers, not getting lost. The Moodle date and time stamp indicates which enrolled students have dropped off their assignments. How slick! That is what I call technology with purpose! Oh, and saving on paper is still another bonus. Celebrate Earth Day! Over and out. Cheryl Oakes


Friday. Gray morning, but the birds are chirping. Just a half day left on the course I’m teaching. Participants are antsy, want out, want a final day of holiday, want some sun. Finally, we say our good-byes. Then I pack up, clean up, clear out. Out for lunch at last! Then back home I’m smothered with kisses by my littlest one. Weekend begins.


Spring’s finally here and so are my allergies that leave me brain dead.

Anne M:

My week has been tinged with sadness, due to the loss of my mother and her funeral taking place. However, it has also been a time to reflect on cherished memories and remember all the wonderful times we have shared together. The week ended on a high, with the arrival home of our two sons from London, who flew home suddenly to spend 2 weeks with us at this sad time.


A week ago we were just back from Israel sitting around this kitchen table at 3am eating breakfast without milk and a week later, after suffering though a bout of jet lag and accepting some powerful NWP/HVWP challenges, I am poised to begin my first grounded week at home. Any sign of spring?

If you like this idea of slicing into your day, you should wander over to Two Writing Teachers, where the blogging team there has established a regular Tuesday Slice of Life feature that offers yet another way to integrate writing, reflection and community.

Peace (in connections),

Day in a Sentence: slicing into your week

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The Day in a Sentence has always been purposefully minimalistic.

It’s about narrowing down your reflection to its essence. But the recent Slice of Life project (kudos to Two Writing Teachers) that I have been part of has demonstrated how insightful it might be to pull back a bit and broaden that focus.

So I am going to suggest that we consider doing just a bit more writing than a sentence this week.  I ask you to consider writing a few sentences or a short paragraph that brings us inside your classroom and sharing that experience with us.

Of course, you still have the option of a single sentence (that is always the default, given the lack of time that so many of us have).

As usual, please use the comment link here at this post. I will collect all of the submissions and then post them together on Sunday. If you decide to podcast your writing, just provide me with a link or email me your audio file at dogtrax(at)gmail(dot)com and I will host for you.

Here is my submission:

The toolbox of figurative language can be fun for writers and readers, I assured my students, and then we launched into the realm of hyperbole. They caught the exaggeration bug quickly, easily telling tall tales about their lives. The alliteration was also a blast, as we tied up our tongues with our own twisters and read from Dr. Seuss’s Oh Say Can You Say. I had more volunteers to read from that book than pages and more laughter than time. But idioms? Oh my. Perhaps it is their age but idioms confused so many of them. And for my few students whose second language is English, idioms are like some bastion of imprecise phrases. One even asked, what do you mean, they don’t mean what they say? We took it slow, but not slow enough.

Peace (in slices),

PS — Alice M. has agreed to be host of Day in a Sentence next week. If you think you may want to host, please just let me know. It is simple, yet informative.