Holiday Sandwich

EdSlowChat  In a recent #EdSlowChat on Twitter, Anthony Purcell @MrP_tchr  posed a question regarding what to do with the “Holiday Sandwich,” named for the gap or valley  created during December by the Thanksgiving  and Christmas or Winter breaks.

Frankly, this time of year is exciting for many reasons, but also challenging in terms of keeping students engaged in learning. (Sometimes its even hard for me to stay engaged!) For me, a high school English teacher, I feel like I never want to start another big unit (aka book or play) because this 3.5 week period plays more like 2 weeks in a more (traditionally) productive time of year.Tweet edslowchat

My own answer to this question is captured in my tweet response on the chat. This year some colleagues and I decided to take a chance with a new PBL experience (see BIE for a better explanation than I’ll ever give) for students that involves embracing the learning value in a world of tragedy, change, and challenge. The recent terrorist attacks in France, the ongoing Syrian Refugee Crisis, and the ensuing political and ideological battles in the United states can create confusion and concern in students, and thus become opportunities meaningful learning. This is how I (we) plan to keep kids and myself focused during the “sandwich.” The time can be stretched or condensed based on student work and response, so there’s urgency to learn but not a strict time limitation. I know it doesn’t sound like the most fa la la thing to do, but at a time of year when we all, in some way, consider what’s most important, some perspective building and relevant learning might be a gift worth giving.


To All Music and Marching Band Friends. A Little Love for All You (We) Do.


This poem is dedicated to all my marching band friends, and to all those who support and sustain the art of music in motion


The “bench” is empty.

There are no first, second, or third stringers.

From the newest freshman who can barely keep up, to the most seasoned senior, everyone is on the field, every moment.

No subs, no pinch hitters, no back-ups.

Expectations for performance are the same for everyone, every day.

The clock doesn’t stop.


There are buses, and trucks, and equipment, and more equipment.

And carts, and electric, and generators, and video, and lights, and med-kits, and ice, and play-through-the-pain, and discipline…and discipline.

And there’s wind, and some rain, and the cold, and the heat.

Uniforms are old-school. Made of wool.

Summer, fall, winter, spring.

Then there’s practice.

Hours and hours before school even begins.

When everyone else is still in summer-mode.

Learn to walk, again. Run, jump, breath. Together.

Eat, play, move. Together.

Sit, stand, focus. Together.

Days, Nights, Friday, Saturday. Together.

Graceful, punch it, soft, hard, hit-it, toss it, catch it, breathe deeper from way down, precise, in-synch, feet, hands, toes, heels, heads, chest, shoulders, stomach. Together.

Eyes with pride. Together.

Change the move, read the chart, two more steps, reach, stretch, fix it, stop. Together.

One more time. One more time.  One more time. Together.

Ready. Ready? To the ready. Get ready.

Drum majors, is your band ready?

You may take the field and perform