OLW and a poem to help explain my thoughts.

This week I tried Tara’s OLW lesson with my third graders.  I felt a little guilty that I had not committed to my own OLW but I was eager to try the lesson.  I admitted to my students that I had been tossing a  couple of words around for a week and that I had not made a decision.  My first idea was REACH and then for a couple of days I was almost certain it would be CONNECT.  I explained my thinking behind each word and demonstrated how either word could stretch into all areas of my life.

Unlike me, my students were successful in making choices for themselves and they are now in the process of making a handprint shaped  tuxedo word collage as Tara suggested in her lesson. They also wrote poems.  In the end, it was the discussion that popped and buzzed around the room which made the project so much more worthwhile than I would ever have anticipated. (This for another day.)  Here is a link to Tara’s lesson: http://app.emaze.com/@AOFLCWZL/one-little-word#1

I woke up to a mind freeing snow day this morning.  Such a gift!  My word came to me while in the shower and I know it is right.  Here are some clues:


When a whale dives it makes mighty up and down thrusts with its tail. This causes the water pushed by the tail to well up to the surface forming slick spots known as whale footprints. Sometimes a series of footprints marks the path the whale is taking underwater. You can do this yourself in the swimming pool with your feet, but your footprints will not last as long as those made by a whale. Try it with fins.  It works even better.


What is a whale’s footprint?

A whale’s ‘footprint’ is the disturbed water it leaves on the surface of the ocean when the whale flicks its tail or fluke with a downward stroke. Sometimes I am able to follow a whale just by following the series of ‘footprints’ on the surface even if he doesn’t surface himself.




A whale dives deep

into dark gray blue

                                                            saluting with flukes

                                                            before disappearing.


                                                            a slick footprint

                                                            to rest on the surface.

                                                            A still wake

                                                            whose edges

                                                           unfold into ripples,

                                                           whose edges

                                                           unfold into ripples,



                                                           across the sea.

My OLW is RIPPLE.  I am not interested in making a big splash but I want to make a difference. Traveling below the surface and leaving ripples along the way seems to be something I can accomplish.



About kdoele

I am a teacher who continues to learn from students kindergarten through seventh grade. Currently teaching seventh grade English and Reading/Writing Workshop, I am exploring what it is like to "begin" again... my one little word for 2017.
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6 Responses to OLW and a poem to help explain my thoughts.

  1. Tabatha says:

    “Flukeprint” is a wonderful word. I’m sure you will achieve your goal this year! I especially like the ending of your poem. The concept reminds me of this quote by Thomas Carlyle: “The work an unknown good man has done is like a vein of water flowing hidden underground, secretly making the ground green.”

  2. Ramona says:

    Kim, I was worried that your OLW was going to be flukeprint! Ripple is such a wonderful way to make a difference. Enjoy the journey.

  3. maryleehahn says:

    So much of what we do as teachers is like that powerful push a whale gives with its tail — unseen except for the outcome — the flukeprint and the ripples. Here’s to a year of powerful change-making with ripples, not splashes!

  4. dorireads says:

    May your ripples reach well beyond the surface you imagine. Beautiful poem.

  5. Irene Latham says:

    Dear Kim, you are rippling right now, all the way to Alabama. Beautiful poem! Sometime I’ll have to tell you about a whale watching trip Paul and I took in Maine. It didn’t go quite the way we wanted it to. xo

  6. cvarsalona says:

    Ripple is such a gentle word in a large body of water. It is the ripples that cause spread out to encompass more than the little space they glide in. Enjoy your word. Your poem is as gentle as the OLW.

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