Thursday, May 18, 2017


Self-expression is an important aspect of who you are. It is the manner in which you present yourself. Have you ever thought how you would portray yourself? Would you draw, paint, illustrate, create a digital, or a hand-hewn expression of you in the limitless expanse of life? 

Last week, Brenda Davis Harsham created a self-portrait poem, Self-Portrait as Wildflower, mirrored on Irene Latham's amazing poem, Self-Portrait as Tangerine. I was so taken by their poems that wove words and visuals so beautifully that I have been reflecting on the form all week. Using Irene's and Brenda's poems as inspiration, I designed a poetic expression and digitized it to represent a side of me that has emerged over the years. Knowing that Irene and Brenda's poems are concise and metaphorically inspired, I humbly present my image poem. It is filled with flourish depicting the image that expresses the inner me. 

Self-Portrait as Calligraphy Pen

A self-portrait is an artistic expression of the inner you.  

"Calligraphy is an effective way to communicate a message in a beautiful way, and adding illustrations/embellishments only adds to the striking nature of the art piece."-Lindsey Bugbee 

                     Self-Portrait as Wildflower            Self-Portrait as Tangerine

This week, Poetry Friday is hosted by Kiesha Shephard at Whispers from the Ridge. Kiesha sent out a lovely invitation to remind us to stop by the Poetry Friday Round-up and asks us to think about the shape of our year so far and where we find joy in our daily routines? 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wonder Bundle

As a Wonder Lead Ambassador, I am in the process of creating a Wonder Bundle of five literacy learning experiences for teachers to use. This 3rd post, entitled, "Uninspired", provides ideas on how to help students find inspiration around them so that they are inspired to write and share their ideas with each other. 

I thank my colleague and friend, Holly Mueller, and her student Connor for providing mentor texts for this learning experience. Please click on the link below to see Wonder Bundle #3.

You can access the two other Wonder Bundles I created at:
  • Wonder Bundle #2, Choice Leads to Amplified Voice, can be found here.
  • Wonder Bundle #1, How Can You Make Earth a Better Place? is here and linked to Celebrating Earthhere
I am centering the learning experiences around the acts of noticing and wondering to inspire all to write from the heart. 



Where the Wonders of Learning Never Cease. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mindfulness in the Classroom (and Beyond)

In yoga last week, the teacher gently repeated a mantra that stayed with me throughout the session. 

"Let your mind rest on your breath,"
resounded in the quietness.
We engaged in the stillness
as our minds disengaged. 
A gentle voice retraced the message.
"Let go of your to do lists.
Focus on the breath."
Mindfulness floated
in spaces surrounding us. 
Peace prevailed. 
©CVarsalona, 2017

It was a timely message since I was preparing for the #NYEDChat convo centering on "Mindfulness in the Classroom and Beyond." Building momentum for a successful chat is key.

What transpired was noteworthy. The above poster, illustrated by the beloved author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds, was retweeted by educators, parents, and students for days prior to #NYEDChat. Thoughtful questions were prepared by the wonderful author, poet, and yoga/mindfulness instructor, Susan Verde, and I repeatedly sent out the question flyer via Twitter. The publicity campaign continued on FaceBook. We were definitely ready  for a chat that would engage people and students from many corners of the world beyond New York State. 

A transcript of the chat was promptly provided by Participate. It can be can be found here

What does it take to deliver a topic, engage an audience, and provide an opportunity for people to network with each other?

  • Mindful intent
  • Positivity
  • Focused Topic
  • Great advertising campaign
  • Passionate moderators and participants (Peter and Susan heated up Twitter, making #NYEDChat trend in the early part of the convo.)
  • Stamina
  • Gratitude

Upon a quick relook at the chat I realized that the above bulleted points were evident throughout the conversation. Moderators and participants came into the chat with an excited attitude and positive perspective. Everyone was mindfully attending to the topic at hand, providing responses, resources, and sidebar conversations with each other. The topic focused us on the importance of having students learn mindfulness in their early years. Passion was present and in high degrees. Because of the high volume of tweets, stamina was needed to stay in the flow. Everyone was grateful for the moderators' thoughtful questions and responses.

Reflecting on the chat has made me aware of the high energy of educators, parents, and teachers who voluntarily join evening chats. There seems to be an endless thirst for knowledge and consistency in positive perspectives. 

I leave you with gratitude for our guest moderators' enthusiasm to prepare for and engage in the chat. In addition, I would like to express heartfelt thanks to the participants for their eagerness to learn alongside Peter H. Reynolds and Susan Verde. 


Stay tuned for Part 2 in which I will dig deeper into the chat to highlight the positives. I offer this post to Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesday, "a meeting place for a world of reflective writers" where educators share weekly slices of their lives.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Turning of the Seasons

As one season turns into the next, subtle changes occur in nature. Winter turned to spring this year, and a flurry of poems were released. National Poetry Month saw the rise of poetry in classrooms and on social media. 

Laura Shovan's #10FoundWords project that began in winter on a closed FaceBook community site continued into spring. For the April challenge, Heather Meloche offered the prompt, Early Spring by Rainer Maria Rilke. I found myself responding late to the call to write but nonetheless was drawn to this poem that centered on the turning of the seasons. 

In order to complete the task, I needed to use the 10 words that were chosen from the original poem to create an a found poem. The words Heather chose for the challenge were: vanished, softness, meadow, rivulets, tendernesses, earth, subtle, risings, expression, and trees. 

Early Spring

Harshness vanished. A sudden softness
has replaced the meadows' wintry grey.
Little rivulets of water changed
their singing accents. Tendernesses,

hesitantly, reach toward the earth
from space, and country lanes are showing
these unexpected subtle risings
that find expression in the empty trees.
-Rainer Maria Rilke 


Hues of stark white vanished
in the gentle turning of earth.
Verdant green meadows replaced 
winter's colorless landscape as
earth rejoiced at the gentle awakening.
Subtleties of nature's handiwork
were evident in the tenderness of 
shoots rising, the calling of the birds
above rivulets, and the trees exploding
with colorful blossoms. Earth opened
its arms to nature's euphoric expressions
of jubilation-a springsation of the senses
unfolded before mankind's watchful eyes.
©CVarsalona, 2017

Now please turn to the Poetry Friday Roundup at Tara Smith's site, A Teaching Life. There you will find springtime delights. 

If you have an offering for my spring gallery of artistic expressions, #Springsations, please send me your work. 
Thank You.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Remembering Yesterday

As Mother's Day approaches 
it is time to remember, pause,
and celebrate the yesterdays 
that brought us to today. 

Years ago, 
we came into the world.
It was because of you, 
dear mothers.
You sacrificed for us 
so we could become 
the adults we are today.

(Listen to Il Divo sing a song of praise)

It is time to
our long line of mothers
loved, wept, and nurtured us
so we could learn, be enriched,
practice kindness,
and reap
the rewards of life.
With hope in our hearts
we pass our love on
to those we love
so they grow to
transfer heartfelt love
to their children.
It is time to remember
hope for peaceful 
hearts of love
continue to grow.
Happy Mother's Day!
This week, I celebrate the mothers in my family 
and extend well wishes to friends.
I celebrate with Ruth Ayres 
at her space, Celebrate This Week.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

#StuVoice Rising

Within the community of a classroom, student voice is fostered. Through choice options, it amplifies its reach, moving all students to have a say, to reveal identities, and bring perspectives to the table of knowledge. How does #StuVoice take root?

It rises from corners-
sweeps through a room
spiraling in crescendos 
of energy and passion.

It claims its individuality-
links to another's thought
joining a collective chorus
of inspired thoughts.

It widens in its reach,
unfolding its intent-
promoting positivity as 
it connects to others.

During the #TWTBlob conversation on May 8th, educators discussed how best to keep learning going throughout the summer. As a proponent of student voice, I think that teachers who find their voice through the art of writing are more apt to encourage students to tap into their inner voice and let it fly.

Today is Slice of Life Tuesday and I am joining Two Writing Teachers to offer my slice and read the thoughts of colleagues.  


Monday, May 8, 2017

Professional Wonder

As the school year nears closing, educators continue to find resources and avenues to explore their professional wonder. I am impressed by the hundreds of educators who aspire to seek knowledge and grow as learners each day on Twitter. Twitter chats provide excellent soil to plant seeds, share growth, and cultivate new gardens of thought. 

While not being able to join #G2Great on May 4th, I was fortunate to read the archived transcript and Dr. Mary Howard's Literacy Lenses post reviewing last week's educational chat with Cornelius Minor and Courtney Kinney.  You can access Mary's post hereI was intrigued by the way Mary synthesized the information from the #G2Great Twitter conversation, focusing on the theme of building a tapestry. She deftly wove her post together, providing the reader with a backward look on the chat and a forward plan to finish the year strong. 

For those who enjoy the journey of professional wondering like me, I hope you cultivate gardens of thought as you network and learn from other educators. By becoming a voice on Twitter, you can gather seeds of knowledge to support your journey and build your own Wonder Wall of quotes that extend your knowledge and assist you in helping your learners become unique voices in a diverse world of thought. 

From Mary's post and the thoughts garnered from Cornelius' and Courtney's nuggets of wisdom, I created a commitment statement that I will share with other educators as I continue to walk my journey as a wonderologist.

Stand on the precipice of change.
Hand in hand, lift thoughts while
cultivating gardens of unique blossoms,
places of wonder-filled opportunities
where individual seeds root and grow.

With passion, cultivate and care-tend
your garden, recording each growth. 
Step back in faith, vigilant harvesters
Watch the fruits of your patient labor:  
each blossom spreading and standing 
tall in harmony with many others. 

Reflect within your garden quadrants.
Find the inspiration to start afresh
With yet another garden bearing blossoms.
You are the tillers of the soil of knowledge.
You are the cultivators of immense learning.
You are educators who finish the year strong!
©CV, 2017

I offer this to post to #DigiLitSunday where the topic is professional wonder. This topic stems from last week's #WonderChat where Dr. Mary Howard was the guest host discussing Instilling a Sense of Professional Wonder

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Spring Celebrates Life

Spring is when life's alive in everything.
-Christina Rossetti

Whether the rains fall in torrential waves, there is a chill in the air, or the sun shines brightly, spring sends out messages of love and renewal. Recently on Long Island, there have been many looks to springtime, all leading me to celebrate springtime.

Last weekend there was a twelve hour span of beautiful sunshine for our Shower of Love-a celebration of life growing!


This glorious day was followed by cleansing rains throughout the week that brought more life to my gardens. Hofstras and herbs popped in their garden beds. The peonies are ready to burst open and the front planters of colorful flowers are looking regal.

Springtime honors life in its many forms. At the end of this week, I look back on life through a positive lens. There were several springtime celebrations, a baby shower, spring rain showers, a fundraiser for beautiful, handmade African jewelry and accessories, a professional learning opportunity, an art gala, and time to spend with family and friends. 


Balance and tranquility flowed, as it should when you look at life with a positive outlook. 

May you find positivity this coming week in all that you do and celebrate the wonder of life in springtime!

I am "Celebrating This Week" with Ruth Ayres so please visit Ruth's site to read how the community of bloggers celebrated their week. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Rain Lullaby

morning opens with a chill
flowers stand tall
earth is quenched
©CV, 2017

As rain falls upon us, sings its praise
with pitter patter sounds, loud roars,
 and swooshes of chilling drops.
Nature celebrates spring as the sky's
confetti dances and descends.
©CV, 2017

May the rain lift your spirits rather than dampen them. Come, join me to celebrate springtime. Create digitals, write poetry, offer musical playlists or inspirational quotes for my spring gallery, Springsations. Be inspired by nature around you and unleash your creativity. The invitation to create for the gallery can be found here.

Today, Jama Rattigan is the hostess of Poetry Friday. Please join her Poetry Roundup at Alphabet Soup to see the visual display she has whipped up for us.


What better way to open a morning than to 
REACH for positivity and possibility. 

My day began with gratitude for a shining sun.
I reached out to touch the world
as I glided down the highway.
Traffic was heavy and focus
needed to arrive safely.
Persevere through
I thought.
©CV, 2017 

Donna Smith's one word, reach, was on my mind but there was no time to write. Now at the end of day, I reflect on the power of #ThankfulThursday as a catalyst to pour gratitude into the universe. I am thankful for: safe passage to the regional meeting that I was facilitating, new learning from the keynote presenter, positive communication with colleagues, a wonderful dinner with friends, and the quiet of alone time. 

As I reach out to find further inspiration for this post being offered to Spiritual Journey first Thursday, I give praise to Irene Latham for gathering our community of believers each month and to Donna Smith for opening her site for commentary on her one little word, reach. 

There is much to reach for in life. 

The road ahead may be bumpy
but with a shiny light from above,
I will be able to reach further destinations.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Shower of Love

Bringing a Shower of Love
From My House to Yours

It came in with a roar 
that cracked the sky
but I did not hear it.
I was curled in my bed.
                                             Talk revolved around
 weather as day began
but I could only listen.
I didn't hear thunder roar.
Springsational Morning
True to prediction, sunshine followed. 
Long Island sparkled in daylight
as rainwater evaporated.
Spring came a calling.

Arrival of Guests
I marveled how nature popped.
Plantings sprouted.
Blessings poured down
as guests arrived.

It was a day to remember.
Everything was in order.
of life about to be born evolved.
©CV, 2017

Take a peek at the decorations.

More photos will follow.

This post is offered to Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Tuesday.