Celebrating 500 Posts

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Today I am celebrating my 500th post! I have been blogging for about three and a half years, but only in the last year did I commit to blogging 5 days a week. I connect to The Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge on Tuesdays, Spiritual Journey Thursday, Poetry Friday, Celebration Saturday, and even started my own round up on Sundays, DigiLit Sunday.

This blogging business is making me braver. I have connected with some of the most supportive people on this earth. Some of my blog friends have become collaborators, some writing partners. On Sunday, I had two Google Hang-outs with fellow bloggers. The first group I met with is working on a presentation idea for NCTE 15. The second group was a writing group I was invited to join. My heart was full after these two meetings with like-minded people who are passionate about their work with students, teachers, and writing.

Whether you read regularly or sporadically, whether you subscribe or link up, whether I’ve met you face to face or only through comments, thank you for being here. Thank you for reading my thoughts and scribblings, for being supportive in any way, and for giving me this space to be myself.


A Little Christmas Story

Fall Semester
I have a new writing friend. Stephanie Fournet is a high school English teacher. She self-published her first romance novel with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. I love how she is jumping in with both feet and pursuing her dream of being a writer. Here is a sweet story she sent the group, a little lagniappe as we say in South Louisiana. She wrote the story for a 200 word or less challenge with her faculty. She won first place. Congratulations, Stephanie and welcome to Reflections on the Teche.

Stephanie Fournet is a college counselor, English teacher, and novelist. She lives with her husband, daughter, dogs, and bird in Lafayette, Louisiana, which is the setting of her debut novel, FALL SEMESTER. When she isn't working or writing, she can often be found running or curled up with a romance novel.

Stephanie Fournet is a college counselor, English teacher, and novelist. She lives with her husband, daughter, dogs, and bird in Lafayette, Louisiana, which is the setting of her debut novel, FALL SEMESTER. When she isn’t working or writing, she can often be found running or curled up with a romance novel.

Erin said goodnight to the last customers. It was 10:55 the night before Christmas Eve, and the rush of last-minute shoppers had kept her busy. Now, she would wipe down the remaining tables and lock up.

He wasn’t coming.

Of course, he isn’t coming. Male customers flirted. That’s what they did.

Erin shook her head to clear the foolish thoughts. Erin Parish was lucky; she had more than most: a home of her own and a successful coffee shop. Business at Parish Perks had boomed from the start. She didn’t need Luke and his devil-may-care-curls and teasing smile.

Still, it had felt good the first day he’d come in, ordered two peppermint lattes, and handed one to her.

The next day, he’d swiped her Sharpee, leaving his number on the cup. She’d laughed, but ignored him.

This morning the note had read, “Go out with me tonight?”

“I work ‘til 11. Sorry,” she’d said.

“We could get a drink. I’ll be here before you close.”

But so much for that, she thought, rolling her eyes.

The bell on the door jangled, and Erin turned.

“Sorry I’m late,” he said, clutching a green bundle. “It took forever to find mistletoe.”

–Stephanie Fournet, all rights reserved.

Origami Gift

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

For the past several years, my students and I have made origami poppers out of wrapping paper, stuffed them with Hershey’s kisses, and delivered to the teachers for a holiday treat. I wanted to teach my nephew how to make them over Thanksgiving, but I had a brain freeze. So I asked Matthew to give the instructions on video. Now we can share it with the world.

Please join in the Digital Literacy discussion by linking with Mr. Linky.

Celebrate this Week

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Every week when I sit down to write this Celebration post, I am amazed at all there is to celebrate, even with the stress of the season settling in. My stress started when I slept a whole hour late on Tuesday morning. I managed to get where I was going in time, but it set a hurried tone to my day that was uncomfortable.

Yet, there is much to celebrate.

On Monday, my students performed their play at the Shadows. They were so wiggly and full of nervous energy, but they all did a wonderful job. After our performances (Each scene occurs multiple times for different sets of first graders), we walked downtown to Bouligny Plaza. I told the students that the plaza was named for the founder of New Iberia. I allowed them to play a healthy game of hide-and-seek but said there would be a quiz at the end about the plaques in the plaza. Here a student photo bombs Bouligny.


On Tuesday, Glenae spoke! If you follow my blog posts, you know Glenae was seriously injured in a car accident. She has had a ventilator then a tracheotomy, so speech was not possible. A new smaller trache allowed her to say, “Hi Momma.” What joy and celebration! She has now been transferred to a rehab hospital. Today I received a praise text that she has had the valve shut off to see how she can tolerate it. She is on her way to a full recovery.

On Wednesday, Jeff and I learned the Western Two-Step at our dancing lessons. We have found a Texas swing band that we enjoy, so we asked Lou to teach us some new steps. It’s keeping us young.

On Thursday, my writing group welcomed a new member. She is a good writer and a willing participant. Also, Maggie made dinner. She is an imaginative cook. She used the abundance of satsumas to make a delicious sauce for salmon.

On Friday night, I attended a faculty Christmas party at a local restaurant. It is always fun to relax and talk to colleagues about non-school things.

Today, I started this post but had to hurry off to our Solomon House Christmas party. Without Ellen, Glenae’s mom, to organize the whole thing, I think we did a pretty good job. St. Nicholas came and my husband showed up with chicken fingers galore. Not to mention all the church members who donated time and gifts. Our clients are going to have a better Christmas due to their generosity.

Solomon House volunteer, Betty, holds precious Melachi.

Solomon House volunteer, Betty, holds precious Melachi.

Find more Poetry Friday with Paul at These 4 Corners

Find more Poetry Friday with Paul at These 4 Corners

Silence in the Snow by John Gibson

Silence in the Snow by John Gibson

We don’t get snow here, but the colder weather made me think of presenting Robert Frost to my students. I started with the beautiful Susan Jeffers illustrated book, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Then we read together Frost’s poem Acquainted with the Night and talked about rhyme scheme. A terza rima is a difficult form to write even for gifted kids, so we worked together. We started with a line from my own poem, Snow Day from Illuminate. My first group of students incorporated a repetitive pattern that I reminded them is called anaphora.

Collaborating, stealing lines, playing with rhyme, and writing from an image worked together to result in a nice poem.

Lost in the Snow
a terza rima after Robert Frost

I wake to a field of white
where a bunny rabbit hides,
where a night owl takes flight,

where Santa’s sleigh slides
where I stand on the ground
where a snowflake above me glides,

where something is lost, not found,
where sight begins to fail,
where a whisper is the softest sound,

where dreams set sail
and miles to go before I sleep
I am strong, not frail.

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I wake to a field of white.

–A collaborative poem by Mrs. Simon’s class

Acquainted with the Night by Robert Frost

My second group of students was larger, so the collaboration became more cumbersome. Too many different ideas don’t mix well with strong wills and sensitive writers. I don’t think the poem is as strong, either; however, I am struck by the sense of loss and sadness and overcoming that permeates each one. The images of snow covering the page and the words of Robert Frost set a tone for both of these poems.


Snow fell silently through the night.
These streets I have walked across
into the darkness, out of sight.

The sun I have lost,
Frosting over the glass in this faded frame,
The windows are covered in frost.

Each pattern has its own fame.
Sun rises, suddenly the cold vanished.
Once it is gone, it will never be the same.

Stars above shining bright.
Snow fell silently through the night.

a collaborative poem by Mrs. Simon’s class

Counting Up

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts.  Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts. Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!


There is a construction paper chain outside the principal’s door, visually counting down to Christmas. I prefer to count up. Advent helps us count up as we light one more candle each week. Every time one more candle is lit, we say a blessing. O Come, O Come Emmanuel. O Come, thou Dayspring. Come and enlighten our hearts. Come and save us.

I discovered a hashtag for an advent word of the day, #adventword. Consider following this hashtag on Twitter for inspiration and meditation each day.

Last year I released a poetry book, Illuminate. This little book is special to me. I wrote poems to accompany my father’s Christmas card drawings. His drawings are done in pen and ink pointillism. Today I share a favorite, The Annunciation. This is one of the last ones I wrote. I was struggling with it, so I visited my parents and interviewed my dad about the drawing. “I conceal lost edges” came from this interview. He talked about his efforts in the drawing to keep it fluid, losing the edge of the wings. This discussion made me contemplate the real/ unreal, the sensed/ the imagined. Advent is a time to conceal lost edges, to imagine something new, light coming from the darkness.

Annunciation by John Gibson

Annunciation by John Gibson

An angel appeared out of the night.
I am not real
I am a dust, a shadow,
a sprinkling of dots on a page,

A lonely seraphim
with open arms
at the royal gate.

I am crowned
by the moon’s light,
draped in the darkness of forewings.

I pray
my message is welcomed.
I conceal lost edges.

The sacrament,
this new birth
unveils me, makes me real
as breath.
–Margaret Simon, from Illuminate

The Nonreader

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

I’m sure there must be one in every classroom, right? The nonreader. The one who pretends he has it all together. The one who keeps the same book for weeks traveling to and from home.

I am having a hard time writing about this. I’ve already gotten up twice to make tea, to eat a cookie. My heart wants to talk to you, but my head is not sure how.

I made a student cry last week. I don’t like to make students cry. This one came about unexpectedly. I asked Mitch (name changed), a 6th grader, about his reader response post. He explained that his post about “The Elf on the Shelf” was his reader response. I thought it was his Slice of Life story. I said, “We need to talk about your book selections.” His face turned red. His eyes welled up. We moved out to the hallway.


I want to honor free choice. A few weeks ago, I allowed him to read “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” But even then I said, “OK, but next time you need to pick a book on your level.”

“I’m just not much of a reader,” Mitch told me, “I’d rather play outside.” We talked about ways he could work reading into his nighttime routine. When we returned to the classroom, my other students rallied around him with book choices.

Most of my gifted students are avid readers. I gave up the nightly log last year when it became burdensome for both me and my students. Every day we have discussions around books we are reading. This student, however, has not caught the wild reader fever. Quite the opposite. He is a closet nonreader. Now we all know, and he felt the chastisement. I’m not sure if things will change very quickly. Mitch has to find the right book. He will flourish only when he is understood and accepted. So how do I make him excited about reading, honor his choices, and advance his reading skills? Please give me your advice in the comments.


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