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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gifts

I read a pretty incredible book over the weekend, Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper. I came upon it accidentally while looking for the book See You at Harry's (which I can't seem to get a copy of yet, probably need to order it)! Anyway, so here I am, long weekend, start reading and in a day and a half I have digested some text that is close to as eye opening as Wonder. A girl with cerebral palsy who happens to also have a photographic memory. A brilliantly frustrating novel that shows a character's wordless struggle to be heard. I tried to imagine what it would be like to have so much knowledge and every moment be underestimated by others. To be so gifted and not have a way to share my gifts.
Today I had a meeting with a mentor and something she said is going to stay with me forever. It was something she learned from her pastor. It went something like this: We all have gifts, it is my job as a pastor to bring the congregation together to share those gifts. Then she said that it was very similar for her when she was a principal, she needed to "mobilize the gifts." Find what is special in each person that is a part of the community in her school and utilize each gift that they bring to the group. She was telling me this in reference to the gifts my students bring each day to the classroom.
She said it better than I can here, but it reminded me at a great time that everyone has a talent, a gift, something to share. We just don't all do it the same way.
"Mobilize the gifts."


Chalk-A-Bration, here on May 31st! 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Are You Dreaming?

 Poetry Friday is hosted by the amazingly supportive blogger, Linda Baie at TeacherDance

You

You who pays no mind
to the rules.

Conformity,
a ruse.

You don't fit in those shoes.

You
who will actually
go
be you.

No carbon copy,
not a bird who flocks,
but a YOU
who travels

not knowing stops.


Dreaming

Go out hunting
those dreams
tie them down
as they fret.

Don't doubt them,
your dreams,
they are yours
in your net.

As you grow
they'll wise up and
may try to escape.

So, hold tightly,
those dreams are for you
no mistake.



Inspiration lurks in so many places, surprising places. I just finished listening to the audio book Clementine, by Sara Pennypacker with my kids on our way to and from school this week. What a timely story, a timely character to meet.  My students are in that mode of "shut down." I am often perplexed by those who do not conform to school routines, those who go their own way. Yet, I appreciate them. They don't make my job easy, my job shouldn't be. They don't jump when I say jump, they shouldn't. They should be who they are, learn as they go and become something brilliant and amazing that they can take full credit for. I hope for them that they continue to be creative, bold, courageous and be who they set out to be. I hope they don't lose sight of their dreams and that they "decide what to be and go be it," (The Avett Brothers, Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise).

Chalk-A-Bration 2 is May 31st. Welcome soon to be summer with a poem on the ground for others to enjoy. Check it out here.

 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Whistling Through Wednesday

This morning on the way to work I found myself whistling a song I don't know the name of nor the artist, but I know it repeats the word "impossible" over and over again. I had to chuckle at this because that is how the next few weeks of this school year are going to feel at times. IMPOSSIBLE, yet possible. To top this off, I am getting some strong messages recently. Linda's post from yesterday. This quote in an email from a colleague today.
 "You can lengthen the school year, test every other week, narrow the curriculum, raise the standards, or use any other strategy you can think of to restructure schools. The fact remains, what matters most is the relationship between one student and one teacher."
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller
From The Teacher Talk Advantage
I reached into my sticky note box to retrieve a new pack and pulled out sticky notes that read:
"Just for Today....Be Happy"

I found myself giving the, if you have a choice between being cruel or kind, choose to be kind (much like the message given in the book Wonder, by R.J. Palacio) to my students. They seemed to pay attention to this statement and I found I liked saying it as well. It was calmer and more suitable than some of the words I wanted to say today, so for today, I was happy. I think tomorrow will bring impossible happiness too, if I choose it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Full Of Melodies

Many melodies are running through my head today as I come off a weekend of seeing The Avett Brothers in concert. Yesterday it was kids singing happy birthday and this morning it was the littlest tweets of baby robins who had freshly hatched between Saturday and Monday evening. There are few sights as precious, awkward and innocent as a nest of four new baby birds. The slightest sound raises their heads in hungry alarm. Quiet means that they are nestled over each other waiting for their mother. It connects for me to the changes that are on the horizon as I walked past the speech language-pathologist with my class today and she said, "look how much they have grown!" I look, and maybe for the first time, notice they have changed dramatically in size since I last paid any attention. I look at them and see readers, writers and thinkers. No longer do they rush to me with their mouths open waiting for me to put something in like a baby bird. They are taking it in all on their own and they are growing.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Colors...?

Ruth Ayres had a creative idea today at her blog discover. play. build. She took a snapshot from her notebook describing colors she sees when at camp. Camping is a favorite summer past time with family, so I was immediately in agreement with the color scheme. I began to think about her question:
"Will you make a page in your notebook noting the most abundant colors in a particular setting?"
Of course! With students I have been working to show them ways to create detail in their writing, such a daunting task. You can't just say "add details," but that is often what I used to do, with little results. I am now trying to show them. I began to think about what personal writing projects I had been working on most recently, a poem about the spaces between leaves. This was inspired by another blog favorite, Linda at TeacherDance about Looking Long. I was so intrigued by her post that began with a poem by John Moffit called, To Look at Any Thing. The line "To the small silences between/The leaves," hooked me. I really tried to think about what I would notice if I could just sit there for a while and I have been working on a poem ever since on this very place. What better color palate to imagine! I am sure more inspiration can be drawn from the shades of green, the color of dew and the shadows. Here is the start on my color scheme. I am hoping to post the poem tomorrow on Poetry Friday.

I am always surprised by writing. Some things come out so quickly and others need time to simmer and then it comes together. It dawned on me while writing this post that I could also use this with my students too. Showing them the constant evolution of my poem and how colors have helped create details. How setting is what inspired it along with the Moffit poem. A detail they can relate well to due to our focus on story elements recently and their love of colors in kindergarten writing. Color palates may be making an appearance in my classroom next week too. Thanks Ruth!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Staring Into May and Reading At The Same Time!

This week there is some revisiting, rereading rethinking and reflection as we stare into the month of May.

I love Leo Lionni books. I typically do an author study early in the year because his books speak to working together and solving problems. We will be revisiting his stories this week with a focus on story elements. His stories like It's Mine and Swimmy have such great "problems" and "solutions."


Over the weekend my family and I took some long car rides and an audio book seemed like just the thing to pass the time. We listened to Because of Winn Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo. I forgot how much I loved this story and I think my husband fell in love with the characters as much as my kids did. I might need to look for The Tiger Rising next, such good stories.

Today I read Oh No, George! to my students. They laughed out loud and were making predictions like crazy! As I said earlier, we are working on story elements and our focus this week is finding the problem and solution within a story. Let's just say this book is full of problems that George finds himself in the middle of. The ending is left a bit, up in the air, and I think we may write our own endings since the kids had great ideas about what George might do next!
 
For Mother's Day I got some book buying money (yahoo) and ordered myself a copy of Mentor Author, Mentor Texts, by Ralph Fletcher. I am excited about this book for a few reasons. I have been a fan of Ralph Fletcher since I first heard my mom talk about him many years ago when she gave me all of her Craft books. I am going to the All Write conference in Indiana in June, and he will be there presenting. And, this book seems like just what I need right now to make what I am already doing with mentor texts and author studies SOOOO much better and more intentional. As I read bits of the first chapter I felt like it will be a book that causes me to pause and really think about why I use mentor texts and what I hope to gain. I look forward to the confusion because I know I will be better once I sift through it all. Take a peak here.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Whistling Through Wednesday

Are you a whistler? I tend to be and I am typically whistling whatever song my husband was singing while getting ready in the morning.....the rest of day.
Occasionally though, I really enjoy the song I am whistling and today's was quite good. It is originally a song by Gotye called Somebody That I Used to Know. It is recently getting some airplay, but my favorite version of the song is actually the cover version by Walking off the Earth. This band is something to be seen and heard. (Yeah, they all are playing on one guitar).
What were you whistling today?


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Write Space


Finally...I have it.
I was inspired a few weeks ago when Ruth posted a photo of her freshly cleaned art area where she creates with her kids. I thought to myself, "I have a spot, I have a table, I have too much other stuff everywhere." And that overwhelming feeling took over and I felt defeated.
Then Friday night came and I started anyway. I started sorting, got the baskets, garbage bags and motivation to purge and did just that. Recycled a lot, made an area in our garage to put all the "to donate" stuff, and kept going. And, now, three days later, for the first time, I am sitting in "my space." I love it, it feels good, and I get a feeling great things are going to happen here.
My writing space (don't worry, we don't use the fire place)!

And on the opposite wall, my kids much improved crafting area!
(I love that I can join in or just watch from my new spot).

Monday, May 7, 2012

Books That Make a Splash

 Visit Kellee and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts the hosts for this meme. A great place to find children's books and YA! If you want a better and longer reading list, check them out!
 
 
I have been reading all things poetry lately and trying to really get more aquainted with children poets. I recently picked up a few books that were new to me and had to share.

Splash! Poems of Our Watery World by Constance Levy


I am finishing up a unit on earth and earth materials so these poems about water are a great accompaniment to my lessons. I want to share so many but I must pick a couple to give you a taste if you have never seen this book. So, rather than me try to tell you about it, I will let the poems speak for themselves.




Drops
A teardrop
looks like sadness
and has a salty taste.
A raindrop tastes of sky
and brings a shower.

A dewdrop is a new drop,
a taste-of-morning-brew drop
and is probably delicious
to a flower.



Full Moon
on Mirror Lake

Tonight
on this still,
smooth lake
high
in its forest place,
the wandering,
wondering moon
becomes acquainted
with his face.


Water Wizard

I am a wizard of shapes and moods:
I'm ice, I'm fog.
I grow your food.

I quench your thirst,
I flood, I launder,
I mirror, I skip,
I race, I wander.

I dribble and drip,
I float a ship.

I soothe a throat,
I brew your tea.

I swim in you,
you swim in me.


Another poetry book I picked up late last week and plan to share with my students is call Give Yourself to the Rain by Margaret Wise Brown. Here is one of my favorites from the book. It crossed my mind that each student could probably take a line and illustrate it for a class book; might be a neat project.










In the Woods

Silence of the deep green wood
Where little sounds are heard
The flutter of such tiny wings
The buzz and sudden springs
Of grasshoppers flying from the grass
Where the shining beetle traffics pass
Near the roots of the long green grass
And in the birch trees
The rustling of sunlit leaves
The silence of logs, the coldness of stones
Deep in the deep green wood alone
Where the little sounds are heard
And the terrible clap of the wings of a bird
Flying to break
The high silence
Of the still blue sky.


I have been looking for a book of concrete poems, poems that form a picture. I thought these would be fun to share and show the flexibility that poems offer. I found a great one that relates to water again! (I have gotten really lucky)!
Splish Splash by Joan Bransfield Graham, Illustrated by Steve Scott

Here are two that I thought were fun and would be easy for my students to imagine creating.







Friday, May 4, 2012

A New Notebook

 Poetry Friday is hosted by Wild Rose Reader!


A Notebooks First Page

Hush
The thoughts are coming,
I hear them on their way.

Like butterflies
migrating
Not promising to stay.

Here they are
arriving
Imprinted on the page.

Words fluttering
then settling
Now permanently placed.



I got a new purse the other day. As I was un-filling the old and filling up the new I realized there was no way my current notebook was going to fit. Oh no...or...wait, a new notebook!!!  And off to the bookstore I went to peruse the newest selection of compact notebooks. Then, there is sat, in my new purse, for a week, no words.  Hmmmm. I was a bit perplexed, that first page is always so important, what will it say. Then it hit me, so I wrote. And now, my notebook is officially broken in and ready for action!





(Notebook scribbles...I don't keep it pretty)!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

And Here Comes May


Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers!


As quickly as the chalked words decorated my driveway they were gone. 
Here are my children playing in the showers that washed away all of April's words.

If you didn't get a chance to see the beautiful chalk poetry yesterday, take a peek! It might inspire you to go outside and do a little chalking of your own. It has been good for my soul, pass it on.