What Works Wednesday: Six by Six Memoirs

For today’s edition of What Works Wednesday I would like to share an introductory writing activity that I did with my Passion Writers.  I call this writing activity a 6 by 6 Memoir. I modified the writing activity from Kelly Gallagher’s book Write Like This. I love Gallagher’s work and this book certainly does not disappoint. It’s packed with excellent information and real-life writing activities.


In this book Gallagher identifies six “Real-World Writing Purposes”.

  • Express & Reflect
  • Inform & Explain
  • Evaluate & Judge
  • Inquire & Explore
  • Analyze & Interpret
  • Take a Stand/Propose a Solution

We focused on the first purpose, Express & Reflect. For this type of writing the expression part of the writing piece are the details that surround the event and the reflection is what the author learned or can take away from the experience. This is a great activity to introduce expressive and reflective writing because it is easily embraced.



modeling the brainstorming process for my writers

I began by creating a “Circle of Life” map and then just brainstormed several one-line (six words) memoirs.



modeling the rough draft for my writers

From there I choose one six-line memoir. I elaborated by expressing and reflecting on that original one-line memoir for a total of six lines, six words in each line.


I published and shared my Six by Six memoir on our Schoology course.

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creating a 6 by 6 mentor text for my writiers


Here are some of the Six by Six memoirs that my Passion Writers wrote and posted in our Schoology course:

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This is a great way to get to know each other at the beginning of the year and it’s a nice alternative to the “I am” poem. It could also be an excellent activity at the end of the year to see how well learners know each other. It would make for a fun “Guess Who? ” activity.


If you missed last week’s What Works Wednesday, click here to read all about Book Vines.


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Writing Territories: 34 Ideas to Push the Pen and Keep the Keys Clicking

Several fellow slicers have been kind enough to share writing prompts and/or topic ideas for the upcoming Slice of Life Story Challenge. Some of the ones I stumbled across can be found here at Sweet Writing Life and here at Just for a Month. Thank you for sharing, ladies!

I  would like to share some writing territories that I created for myself to help me keep pushing the pen and clicking away at the keyboard. I’ve broken them down into days of the week and sprinkled in some alliteration just for fun! So, here we go!


  • Marvelous Monday: What made your Monday marvelous today?
  • Make a Change Monday: Time for reflection here. What changes would you like to make to enhance your life? Or perhaps enhance the lives of others?
  • Mindset Monday: What can you say instead of “This is too hard?” How can you change your mindset? How have you changed your mindset?
  • Motivation Monday: What motivates you, who motivates you? How do you motivate others?


  • Tome Tuesday: Calling all book lovers! What’s on your reading radar? Please share what you are reading, what you have read, or what you want to read.
  • Tickle Tuesday: Laughter, we all know it’s healthy for us. What has tickled your funny bone or are you that person that likes to make other people laugh?
  • Terrific Tuesday: Celebrate the goodness of your day. What made your Tuesday terrific?
  • Today I Will Tuesday: What’s one positive thing you will do to make today great?
  • Top Two Tuesday: It’s quick, it’s fun. Share the top two highlights of your day, week, month, life. You choose!
  • Teacher Tip Tuesday: Go ahead, give us a sneak peek into your classroom, into your teaching world. What do you in your daily grind that makes teaching easier for you? What would make teaching easier for others?


  • Warm-Hearted Wednesday: Celebrate the goodness of your life. What warms your heart? How have you warmed someone else’s heart?
  • Wi-Fi Wednesday: Calling all tech savvy individuals here. Share how powerful technology and/or the internet is for you. Is there a new app you’re using? Please share!
  • What’s Good Wednesday: Keep is simple, keep it fun. Focus on the good and sprinkle that goodness around.
  • I Wonder Wednesday: What are you wondering? What are you curious about? Model your post after Wonderopolis or just take this time to reflect.
  • Workout Wednesday: Go ahead, share your workouts. What do you do to keep your body physically strong and healthy?
  • What Works Wednesday: Go ahead, give us a sneak peek into your classroom, into your teaching world. What do you in your daily grind that makes teaching easier for you? What would make teaching easier for others?


  • Thankful Thursday: What are you thankful for? Focus on an area of your life and share what makes your life better.
  • Three Things Thursday: Celebrate a little bit or randomness here. Don’t worry about rhyme or reason. Pick three things and share.
  • Think About It Thursday: This is for all those who have thoughts on their mind. What are you thinking about today?
  • Today I Will Thursday: What’s one positive thing you will do to make today great?


  • Fitness Friday: Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. What do you do to stay mentally fit and work that brain muscle? Or, what do you do to stay physically fit? Maybe you focus on both. Please share!
  • Fresh Air Friday: Calling all nature lovers or those who just like to get outside. What did you do outside today?
  • Five Words Friday: Five words, just five words. Sprinkle them on the page. Perhaps leave us wondering how they connect, what they mean to you. It’s been said,  less is more!
  • Furry Friends Friday: There’s not doubt about it, animals enhance our lives and bring us joy. Celebrate your furry friends and maybe share a funny story or two about them.
  • Fam Friday: Focus on your family today. You chose what you want to share about how important family is to you.
  • Foodie Friday: This is for those who love to create in the kitchen! Food planning: love it, loathe it, or wing it? A trend right now is to have your meals delivered to your doorstep. How’s that working for you? Or, perhaps you’re a restaurant connoisseur. Share some of your favorites.
  • Friendship Friday: Who are the friends that are important in your life? Celebrate your friendship and honor your friend on Friendship Friday.

Saturday & Sunday

  • Let It Be Saturday/Sunday: You made it through the week. What will you do to celebrate the day?
  • Satur-Yay / Sun-Yay: YAY! It’s the weekend! What fun plans do you have to kick back and enjoy?
  • Six Words Saturday: Six words, just six words. Sprinkle them on the page. Perhaps leave us wondering how they connect, what they mean to you. It’s been said,  less is more!
  • Seven Words Sunday: Seven words, just seven words. Sprinkle them on the page. Perhaps leave us wondering how they connect, what they mean to you. It’s been said, less is more!
  • Saturday Six Minute Share: Set the timer for six minutes and write! You only have six minutes. Share what you wrote in those six minutes.
  • Sunday Seven Minute Share: Set the timer for seven minutes and write! You only have seven minutes. Share what you wrote in those seven minutes.
  • If It’s Saturday/Sunday…: What will you do today to enjoy your weekend?
  • Saturday/Sunday Celebrations: What did you do today to celebrate the goodness of life?


There you go!

Happy writing!



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Marooned in the Margin & Caught on the Curb

True confession…I haven’t been writing. Well, I have been writing, but barely. And honestly, I haven’t felt like writing. I guess you could say I am…

marooned in the margin.

The ideas are there. There is no shortage of them. But, I just haven’t had made time to write. Yes, I am …

marooned in the margin.

And then there is the Slice of Life writing challenge. Just around the corner in March. Some days I’m all in ready to accept the challenge. But then on other days, I know I am just going to shy away from it all and throw in the towel. Yes, I am…

marooned in the margin.

True confession…I have barely been running. My weekly mileage is at an all-time low of about six miles per week. I guess you could say I am…

caught on the curb.

I have been cross-training though.  Mixing it up with a little yoga, a little core work, and a little strength training. But the running, well, I’ve found an excuse here and an excuse there to legitimize skipping a run. Yes, I am…

caught on the curb.

And then there is the Pittsburgh half marathon. Just around the corner in 12 weeks. I’m finding it difficult to get motivated to complete my training runs. Yes, I am…

caught on the curb.

But then I stepped forced myself on that treadmill and I ran.

It was magical!

I fell into my own little world.

My running world,

my writing world.

And while I ran, I wrote.

Yes, I write while I run, in my head anyway.

After 3.1 miles, my run was complete and my piece was written.

I bounced off that treadmill.

The words spewed out from mind,

to my fingers,

to my computer.

My run was complete.

My piece was written.

Marooned in the margin,

caught on the curb,

hopefully, no more!

sometimes the most difficult part is just showing up! and sometimes just showing up is enough! ~me


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Live Your Why

By fulfilling your why, you may realize that you can have an even greater impact than you have ever imagined. Surround yourself with things that remind you of why you do what you do and find something each day to help you live your why.

~Lucy West

Why I Write:

I write for me. I write because I want to capture my moments that have now turned into memories. I write because I want to tell my story. I write because I want to remember my story. I write because writing is thinking on paper.

Why I Read:

I read because knowledge is power. I read because I know that reading can take me away when I need to stay where I am. I read because I want to share the passion. I read because I believe I should exercise my mind everyday.

Why I Run:

I run because I can challenge myself in ways that I never thought possible. I run for the thrill and I run for the accomplishment. I run to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle. I run for mental toughness and I run because my body was meant to move.

Why I Teach:

I teach for my students. I teach because I understand their struggles. I teach because I want to celebrate their successes. I teach because I believe I can make a difference.

Why I Advocate for the SPCA:

I advocate for homeless and neglected rabbits. I advocate for them because they don’t have a voice. I advocate to show these precious animals that there are good humans in this world of neglect and abuse. I advocate because I believe I can make their world a better place.

Why I Will Always Be a Mom:

I will always be a mom because I have the best daughter in the world. I will always be there when she needs me. I will share in the highlights and lowlights of her life. I will always be a mom because I have been blessed to be given this role.

What Is Your Why?

Live Your Why!



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Got Journals?

I’ve been spending wasting some time on Pinterest lately, but I think it is a good time-waster, if there is such a thing.

What have I been pinning?

journals, journals, and more journals!

All this pinning, well, it has me excited about journaling and bullet journaling.  And I found this great blog called Little Coffee Fox. If you want some great examples of bullet journals you need to check out this blog.

Everywhere I go I seem to be running into journals…

at T.J. MAXX

at Target

at Home Goods

on Amazon

on Instagram

here, there, everywhere!

And, I want to buy them all! But, I have my own journals here at home and I told myself that I would not purchase another one until I filled up at least one journal. So, I broke out my Erin Condren journal and got writing.


*erin condren journal*

I’ve been writing my “morning pages” while the house is quiet and the fur kids are frolicking around their room.  I’ve also seen other SOL bloggers write about morning pages (shout-out to Molly & Michelle) so they have served as an inspiration.


morning pages

Then, I dabbled in creating my gratitude page. I figured I would start with the month of August and jot down a gratitude a day.



gratitude pages

My goal – fill up my Erin Condren journal by the end of the 2016. And, consequently, I did the math by counting up how many blank pages I have left in the journal and how many days are left in 2016. My goal is quite attainable I’m happy to report!

But wait, there’s more!

I can’t help but to show you the other journals that I have been keeping for some time now. They are what the teacher in me would call a “scaffold journal”. They already have templates in them and I just need to provide the words without worrying about structure.

Here’s my Believe Training Journal. I *heart* it. This is my second one and it works really well for tracking my training runs, races, and cross-training. It’s motivational and it just so happens to be in my favorite color!

Then there’s my One Line A Day Journal and my Reading Journal. I love the One Line A Day Journal because it is a diary of sorts for five years. I love looking back at what I was doing on the same day several years ago. It’s a five year journal and I’m already on year three! The Reading Journal allows me to write down books I’ve read and what the book is about. Both are fun and simple!


Got journals?

Yeah, I got ‘um!

How about you?



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small steps

I’ve been taking small steps since I wrapped up the Slice of Life March challenge. Small steps in my classroom that is. After finishing the challenge, I decided I would torment myself try blogging with some of my students. Small steps, hopefully leading to big leaps.

The first thing I needed to do was decide on a blogging platform.  I looked at Kidblog and the free version of Edublogs. I actually set up an account at Edublogs, but the free version just was not robust enough to do what I wanted it to do.  Then after I thought about it, I decided against Kidblog because if I was going to pay for a platform, I would just use Edublog because it is similar to the WORDPRESS that I use for my own blog.

But then a change…enter Blogger! I almost feel like in the blogging world it’s WORDPRESS vs. BLOGGER, just like COKE vs. PEPSI, or APPLE vs. PC! I mean I love WORDPRESS, but I decided to give Blogger a try with my students. Yes, I crossed over!

First off, Blogger is *FREE*! My students all have a GOGGLE account which made set-up easy to establish. While it might not be as sophisticated as the paid version of Edublogs, it certainly is manageable. We didn’t spend a lot of time picking templates, colors, fonts, etc. I pretty much set the site up on my end and then added my students as blog authors/contributors. This was easy-peasy and worked out perfect since I was pressed for time. The end of the school year is right around the corner!

We modeled our first post after a series of poems that Amy Ludwig VanDerwater did in the month of April called “Wallow in Wonder!“. It was just brilliant the way she connected poetry to the ever-engaging articles of Wonderopolis.  If you haven’t been to their sites you need to finish reading this post and GET.THERE.TO.CHECK.IT.OUT!

I decided on our first article from Wonderopolis, Why Are They Called Killer Whales? Wonder of the Day #1651. And then, I modeled the framework of the response. I have to admit, when I saw Dana Murphy’s post,  Create Your Own Text: Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts, I was like, yesssssss, I just did that with my kiddos.  Here is the link to the mentor text that I created: Oh, Mr. Killer Whale, what if we met? The students then worked on creating their post and drew a graphic or added a picture.

We are currently working on our second post. Once again, I choose the article from Wonderopolis, Why Do Some People Chase Storms? Wonder of the Day #779. I didn’t give my students a formal mentor text, but I did give them some possible titles for their post. They could decide on their own title or choose from one of these:

  • Today I’m Chasing a Storm
  • My Dangerous Hobby
  • When I Grow Up…
  • I’m Just a Storm Chaser

Once they finish the storm chaser post they are going to explore Wonderopolis on their own and create their third post. I’ll be anxious to see what they find and what they create! I hope you have time to take a look at our site.

You can find us at gr8readersgr8writers.blogspot.com.

If you do hop on over, feel free to leave a comment!


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It’s Monday! What Are You Doing?

It’s been a very relaxing summer so far!  And, I have to admit that I haven’t really done anything too exciting, but that’s okay because I am a pretty boring person anyway!

Yes, I have taken a hiatus from my blog because, well, let’s just say I wasn’t motivated! 😦  But, thanks to my fellow blogger friends nudging me I decided to sit down this morning and type away.  I also joined an online writing group called Teacher’s Write.  I am excited about participating and *lurking* as I improve my own writing and seek ideas how to assist my students with their writing.  This is another reason why I sat down today to blog because today is the kickoff day for Teacher’s Write.  I’m sure I’ll have a some blog posts that give more details about Teacher’s Write as it unfolds. In the meantime, if you’re curious, you can click on the provided link, join us on Twitter #teacherswrite, or join us on Facebook.

Teacher's Write

Teacher’s Write

On a different note, of course, I am reading even though I have been in a book rut.  I just finished Defending Jacob by William Lundy.  This book earns *5 stars* from me.  I would have loved to have been in a book club to discuss Defending Jacob because I have so many provoking thoughts about the events.  This was my first book by William Lundy so I am looking forward to reading more by this author.  Now I’m off to read/finish The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult.

Defending Jacob  by  William Lundy

Defending Jacob
William Lundy

What I’m not doing today is running and this continues to disappoint me!  Due to a foot injury, I won’t be hitting the road again this week.  This is also a reason why there has been a lack of blog posts, and I will blog about that foot injury one of these days… I am still sort of exercising and you can click on my Exercise Log to see what I have been doing to try to keep fit.  So, today will be a strength training day. My personal trainer will be visiting my house as we tighten and tone those muscles with a little Body Pump!  🙂

Hope you have an awesome Monday and you are enjoying the warm summer weather!

Thanks for visiting my blog!