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December Snowfall

By Kathy Barham

Scraping my car windows,
I remember a March snowstorm

in Virginia, a blizzard that made the pine trees
droop and the bird feeder sway

while we played long games of scrabble,
drank bourbon, dug out candles

and waited for the power to go out.
The second day, more of the same,

the lights still on, the jars full of water
still untouched, and glazed

as the cars we took brooms and shovels
to when the novelty of being snowed

in wore off and the men we said
we needed around had not

While the white wind

blew the snow we swept
back and tires whirred in their ruts,

I recalled the insistent way
the house finches had fought the air

and each other for food
and found myself pushing harder

while you manned the steering wheel.
On the third try,

when we rocked the first car
out, the only sounds

were the snow’s hollow crunch
and wing beats.


Kathy Barham profileKathy Barham, a native of Virginia, moved to Pennsylvania in 1998. She attended the Writing Institute in 2011 and retired from teaching English at Conestoga High School in 2012 after a 22-year career. She currently enjoys tutoring students in expository and creative writing, catching up on reading, and working on her own writing.

Moving Students Forward as Readers Writers and Thinkers

By Sarah Agran

      ‘Tis the season of gifts and thankfulness. This made me reflect on the students who have come to me over the years, already excellent readers and writers. I have tended to view these students as a gift, allowing for more time to be spent on the students who need more support. In interviews and meetings with administrators, I am constantly asked, “What are you doing to move the “Close to Proficient” students to “Proficient.” Nobody ever asks, “What are you doing for that bored kid reading two grade levels ahead?” However, these students are just as deserving of the gift of my time and attention, as their needier peers so how do I help these “gifted” students move forward? Read more

The Core Six

 by Nora Ziegler

            This summer I began to worry about how I needed to change my teaching strategies to help my third grade students meet the challenges of the Common Core, so I did what I always do – I found a book chock full of great ideas I could implement in my classroom.  That book was The Core 6: Essential Strategies for Achieving Excellence with the Common Core by Silver, Dewing, and Perini, published by ASCD in 2012.  What a goldmine!  As Heidi Hayes- Jacobs says in the forward, this book is actually an edu-toolkit with instructional strategies that should be implemented at all grade levels.  Here are briefs on each of the strategies: Read more

A Closer Look at Close Reading: What Really Matters

Falling in Love with Close ReadingBy Lynne R. Dorfman

    Kate Roberts, Maggie B. Roberts, and Chris Lehman engaged a rather large audience in their interactive workshop session about close reading texts and close reading lives at the 103rd Annual NCTE Convention in Boston. They gave us some practical advice and helped us define close reading in terms of what it should not be and what it could be. Read more