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Heroic measures: the loud quiet moment

“39. We must learn that when our art reveals a secret of the human soul, those watching it may try to shame us for making it. (p. 70).
The Artist’s Way: Morning Pages Journal, Julia Cameron.”

Notice the moments.

Notice the tiny moments that may seem insignificant, but are what we look for: make the invisible visible.


  • Young sweet student passing who loved the adults in the building loved with his whole heart, and loved belonging to my Minecraft Club*
  • Group of students working yesterday, talking to each other about the assignment, holding each other accountable, without ANY reminders or redirection from me.
  • Young man asking respectfully how he can play sports, get his work done, and walk again with grace. For listening to his grandmother, me, and his coaches.
  • All students in my toughest class working. Engaged. Happy. Relaxed. Many of them even saying they wanted to keep working on the project at home.
  • Surprising someone with insight (sometimes the most terrifying thing is when someone says “yes” — no more obstacles or excuses).
  • Telling a student that her love of K-Pop was nothing to be ashamed of: “Millions of people around the world love K-Pop, and the opinion of one 7th grade boy doesn’t mean spit if you love it, too.” And she smiled.
  • Though some have described my classroom as ‘controlled chaos’ – most of the time it’s actually calm creativity.

Making a point to intentionally name and label when things work, and reflect in a balanced way. Hold steady and true.



*It changed because of the new after-school program that doesn’t allow students to attend a club unless they have no missing work or Fs. I couldn’t fit it in with my schedule of having it directly after school. 

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Pathos, logos, and ethos take a holiday.

Pathos, Logos, and Ethos
Pathos, Logos, and Ethos

In addition to short films, commercials can be another valuable asset. Many commercials live on multiple places on Bloom’s Taxonomy, and certainly any argumentative reading and writing unit worth its salt contains at least one or two commercials to support a conversation about pathos, ethos, and logos.

I just found this site this morning. This first ad can bring up so many relatable conversation points. To quote John Spencer,

“What’s so odd is that people have been creating art, writing letters, and talking about their food for years. Museums are filled with foodies and selfie shots. We just call them “still lifes” and “self-portraits.” The whole, “don’t miss the moment” mindset fails to recognize that it’s a deeply human need to capture and create precisely because we don’t want to forget it.”

So perhaps a contrast discussion — show a selfie and a self portrait, and ask students to discuss the possible purposes of the artist, or artistic intent. A conversation about pace, too — the speed of creation and its perceived value (in the moment and over time). I can honestly say that my photo albums are my life. One project this summer is to scan everything and save it to multiple places. (But I still have time…right?!)


This is one of my all-time favorites:

And this:

And this is PG-13, but amazing:

And speaking to our hearts, to differences, and most of all our humanity, you may want to share these:


A word of caution: advertisements intended for European markets do not have the same ratings codes as in the States. Seriously — watch everything first if you think it looks like something you want to use in the classroom. 

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As the girls grow…

As the crow flies

My three Colorado amigas, the ladies I’ve known since middle school astound me. If I could present a tableau of the three of them, and show my middle school students, all genders, what the possibilities are for them outside of the testing and the tardy slips, beyond the perceived limitations, oh what a powerful message that would be. So much discussion about ‘career and college ready,’ and the decline of cultural literacy, and here three of my dearest friends who’ve created lives based on things that will never be on a standardized test.

One of my greatest frustrations is trying to figure out how to show children that though the path may not have all the lights on, we educators will show you how to brighten the path.

Pay attention, please.


Lisa has always had grit and determination. I realize the word ‘grit’ is borderline abusive for children of poverty, but in this instance, she exemplifies all the best of that word. She put herself through college. She made sure she could support herself. She has fought for women’s health rights. And now she is a liaison between disenfranchised neighborhoods and city planners to make sure needs are met, communicated, and sustainable. She is the real deal. She understands access to facilities, and how in pockets of even large urban areas, communities are often shut out and marginalized. She gives them space and voice. Lisa truly levels the playing field. Literally.

And yes, Lisa, I hope that bridge over the railroad tracks gets built immediately. Now I’m going to look at that terrible intersection by our school. You made me want to demand better lights and traffic control.

How can I get teachers to stop saying girls are bossy, outspoken, etc. and reframe those traits as what they are? Leadership, strength, determination, and forces for change?



Kristin is pure joy and happiness, even if the face of the most challenging of circumstances. She is currently a kindergarten teacher, and if my boys were tiny again, I would move mountains to have her be their teacher. She embodies sunshine. Wicked smart, funny, and amazingly physically strong. She bikes over mountains. MOUNTAINS! For years, she has also planned gardens and landscaping projects. I wish I had thought to take a picture of her sketchbook and her resources about southwestern plants. She knows the names of trees and flowers. She sees what is painful to the silent, animals, plants, and sometimes people, and also gives them the nurturing they need.

And yes, Kristin, I wish I could fly you out here to cast your spells on my trashy backyard.

How can I tell people to stop looking at professions like teaching, landscaping, and gardening like it’s a hobby? To take the student who loves being on the GreenTeam or at our new Mill Creek garden to turn that into a valuable and sustainable future for themselves? Hey, people of planet earth, we need this rock we’re spinning on!



Tammy is a film festival producer, shaker, maker, creator, planner, presenter, and supporter of film, the arts, women in film, and great storytelling facilitation. She’s thoughtful, methodical, and intuitive.

And yes, Tammy, I wish I could go to every one of the film festivals you share. You understand my love of stories.

How do I tell students that story they’re writing, that movie they’re making, that podcast they’re trying might just speak to someone else who needs to hear they’re not alone? And, guess what…it might actually help you make a living creating?


I’ll keep this post handy for next year. I may start the Royal Queens Club again with this additional information to help students, girls in particular if they need, to see that they are in control of their paths, but it need not be terrifying. I can’t wait to see what we all do for the second half.


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Made from scratch.

Owl Announcement

Hear ye, hear ye: I’m going to make stuff this summer.

Make a mess.

Make do.

Make it work.

Make peace, not war.

You get the idea.

I’ve been playing with Pixelmator, and having a grand time. I told my husband last night that it reminds me of what I loved about being a printmaker during my BFA days: repetitional visual mantras, deconstructing, layering, and chemical, and now digital, accidents that create something uncontrollable and unexpected. These are what I love about printmaking. I miss the lithographic stones, the acid baths of metal plates, and the cool, damp sheets of good paper. And I am in good company: I was the original fangirl of Albrecht Dürer.

(If it was wrong to have a crush on a 15th-century artist, I don’t want to be right.)

I’m moving classrooms, again. This is a good thing. The classroom I moved from is very large, and while that would seem like a benefit, it would be if I was team teaching, but challenging when the media station was tethered to the front. It didn’t quite become the studio/workshop atmosphere I wanted, and I’m not sure why. But knowing how important that is to students I’ll be more intentional in the new space. My sons were helping me move yesterday–the younger one and his friends doing the heavy lifting, and my older son helping organize supplies, papers, etc. He couldn’t understand why I kept so much stuff. To the untrained eye, half-used construction paper and old calendars may seem like hoarding. But students love to personalize their things:


So, keeping supplies at the ready is a must. I’ll be cleaning out physical and digital spaces, clearing of social media clutter, curating and pruning pages. I took pictures of anchor charts and signs that need to be recreated, and recycled the old. I’ll share what I can on Instagram and Pinterest.

One thing I don’t want to make is myself anxious or unhappy. I’ve been pretty down about politics lately. We watched “Where to Invade Next” by Michael Moore last night, and…this is odd…but I feel surprisingly hopeful again. Maybe it’s because I can make edits/cuts from scenes and we can have discussions that mean something: why don’t we get an hour for lunch? Why aren’t we taught nutrition? Why do we serve doughnuts for the ‘free’ breakfast? Why do we feed children full of starches and sugars, and then wonder why their health deteriorates? Why do we assign homework? Why do we have a deathpenalty? Is the school-to-prison pipeline another means of slavery/indentured servitude? Is our mission to make informed citizenry? Yes. I believe so. We want to make change: then shut up and do it.

Make it so.



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