An April (Mostly) Inside

By Tanny McGregor, 2021 CCIRA Conference Presenter

There’s a visual cliché that you’ve likely seen in film, where a calendar is pictured with its pages peeling off one by one. The calendar in motion is an effective way to show time flying, right before our eyes. During the past year, quarantined months notwithstanding, time has rushed past like those pages curling into the wind.

At the time of this writing, I’ve been alive for 640 months. Something inside me has risen up, a new longing to make those fleeting months accountable. What happens to small moments if not captured in a poem, a photo, or quick sketch? I know what happens. The moments fade and the calendar pages fly away.

Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 10.15.47 AM
Created by Tanny McGregor, April 2020, on an iPad with Paper by WeTransfer (@WeTransfer).


Creating a visual calendar changes the way I think about time. Due to the stay-at-home orders in my state, I have more unstructured time to navigate than I can remember. The memorable moments surface daily, though, same as before. So with five minutes each evening, I pick up my stylus and think about the day behind me. What happened that was important, surprising, or interesting? Maybe it’s none of those, but an ordinary moment instead. 

In each empty calendar square, something is remembered. A simple symbol, accompanied by a word or phrase, preserves a fleeting memory, giving it permanence on the page. A visual calendar clutches the everyday, one tiny square at a time.

In our community of readers and writers, time is noticed and named in a variety of ways, through journals and poems, photographs and videos, audio recordings, sketches, and social media posts. A visual calendar is yet another way to create a thought-filled curio cabinet, a place to stow away the moments and take them out again from time to time. 

Note: Last December, Tanny’s sketchnoted thinking was featured on Mike Rohde’s Sketchnote Army blog. Take a look at this visual calendar, created in more typical times:

Tanny McGregor has been teaching and learning for 31 years in Cincinnati, Ohio. Since 2007, she has been writing and presenting for teachers near and far. Tanny’s books include Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading (Heinemann, 2007), Comprehension Going Forward: Where We Are & What’s Next (Heinemann, 2011), Genre Connections: Lessons to Launch Literary & Nonfiction Texts (Heinemann, 2013), and her most recent publication, Ink & Ideas: Sketchnotes for Engagement, Comprehension, and Thinking (Heinemann, 2019). Find her on Twitter @TannyMcG.


Author: CCIRAblog

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