Monday, March 31, 2014
Snow is melting. My chalk is out. I am happy to see the sun. But more than anything else I am happy my daughter can wear shoes that are socially acceptable without socks. IT'S SANDAL TIME!
My daughter is a sweety but put her in socks and she can be a down right terror. We love her, but the sockless boot wearing and sockless shoe wearing gets...well...smelly. I mean really. I'll just put it right out there the girl's feet would burn the hair out of your nose if you got too close. Now there are also other articles of clothing she does not like and I will leave that out of this post, but lets just say today she got to wear a dress, sleeveless, with sandals and there was not a tear shed. By either of us. Hallelujah, thank you spring.
Now, onto other business.
Today was Chalk-A-Bration. Check out the chalkers here.
Today was the last day of March SOLSC, but please join us tomorrow at TWT for the Tuesday SOL.
It has been wonderful getting to know so many new people through this process. I love SOLSC and appreciate all the readers and commenters that stopped by here on their way around the links. It is fun to share a space in this community. I hope I will see some of you at ALL WRITE!!! in June or maybe a few of you at nErD CampMI in July. If so, please leave a comment so I remember to search you out! Until then, happy April (write a poem) and happy spring.
YAY! It is finally here. Spring has arrived and I cannot think of anything else, especially when I write.
I hope you will join in with a piece of chalk and a chunk of sidewalk in your own neck of the woods to share with us here! Just write a poem or illustration, take a photo and link it up here from your blog!
My two shares and some of my children's work is below. I haven't seen my kids this excited about chalking in a LONG time. They were squealing when I told them it was time for chalk!
the warm sun
The neighbors even joined in a bit!
A road leading later to some hopscotch!
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Okay, so I made up the name. But it is delicious!
It starts with spaghetti.
Then into the bowl goes some shaved peppers, grape tomatoes, as many olives as you can handle and marinated artichokes. I usually add some minced mushrooms, but alas I am out.
I could have made my own pesto, super easy to do, but the jar was too tempting. Less cleanup!
Then mix with pesto, add a little sunlight and you have, Delicious!
Sprinkle on some shaved parmesan cheese if you want a little more salty taste!
This is dinner. We call it green spaghetti. YUM!
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Layered, I pull on
fingerless gloves with
the mitten top.
Sliding the black band
over my head phones
they are already playing
Tune Yards shuffling
to Temper Trap.
I didn't say we liked
the same music;
we probably don't.
But we are under
the same sun
that is blinding
to move with their hand
in a permanent high five
I give them an imaginary
smack as they go by
spattering their mud
on my shoes
and spraying me with gravel.
My eyes are lit
with brightness that has been
While the snow
has been mounting
now defeated by warmth
she looks like road kill.
As I go past, occasionally
I take ballet steps across her
and daintily step to the ground
as though reaching for
the princes hand
outstretched for me.
But no, I am alone
glad to be
with the puddles
and browning snow.
The bits of life that
are revealing themselves
and birds that chirp
on this sunlit run.
Friday, March 28, 2014
I am so grateful to all my colleagues. I had conversations with each of these people today and upon reflecting on their friendship I am grateful to each of them.
You remind me how grounded I am and push me to new levels. I appreciate your loving heart and calming demeanor. You always know the right thing to say and help me steer the ship. Your encouragement has helped me get where I am and will help me go where I'm headed.
Thank you for the conversations. When I talk to you I am reminded that I am not far off but instead sailing in the right direction. I feel motivation build when we talk of writing and slicing. Your moments that you have shared here in the slicing world and the moments you share in your teaching life help us all.
You have always been someone I can go to for support. When I first began teaching in our building and still today I can come to you. I can be honest about my struggles and gain support from your experience. You share and go beyond to help your students and colleagues move forward.
Every day I have worked with you I can count on your positive attitude. No matter what the turmoil or success may be it is approached with a smile and encouragement. I appreciate the "rock" you have become.
Even when it has been weeks since a conversation we can pick up right where we left off. We can joke about the past and enjoy the glimmers of our future. Your hugs are real and feed my soul with a bit of comfort that no one else can give me.
I may not see you every day but when I do it brings a smile to my face. Not everyone has this kind of presence but you evoke happiness wherever you go. You are tender but strong.
You always have time. I don't know how this is possible with the "to do" list you must have, but there is always time. I appreciate the guidance and support you offer. Your passion for encouraging readers lead my son to read three chapter books in five days. Thank you.
Whether it is stormy or sunny in our classroom I can count on a little bit of dancing with you each day. The joy we share together never gets old and our silliness gets us through the tricky moments pushing us toward the better ones. Your constant support and loving heart the past two years have made all of us better.
There are more. There are so many more people I am lucky to know. People I am lucky to have support and love from each day. I work in a place where it doesn't matter what test is on the next corner or what craziness awaits the the next curve, because we support one another to get to those places. I don't think you can find that. I believe it found me and I am grateful.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
I'm almost there and so are you. We've made it 27 days and there are just four more after today.
Today I bought four cartons of organic strawberries to go with the strawberry jello and Redi-Whip snack for my daughter tomorrow. She will be seven. She's telling everyone she will be nine, or twenty depending on the time of day. It's funny to watch someone gain so much personality over the span of their life. She is a spunky girl who seems to make everyone smile with her infectious grin. I have watched her grow from a child who would chew on her board books to a child who goes to bed with a book under her pillow. She carries a stuffed dog, Biscuit, everywhere she goes...still. She is my little girl but one day she will leave Biscuit at home. One day she won't fit in that new pink and black polka dot dress she wants to wear for her birthday. One day she will be nine and then twenty and she will be amazing.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Tonight was my son's spring concert. It was adorable. They had singing, dancing, recorders playing and beautiful little voices. We were on our way home late this evening, well, I should say late for kids. I looked out my window at about 7:30 when my husband quickly pulled over the car. We have a thing about sunsets or really any kind of moment we want to capture of the sun with our camera. I think we pulled over and turned around a total of four times to get the perfect shot. Most of those are on my husband's phone, they don't do the scene justice, but I got a few shots as well. It reminded me of some poems I wrote a while back and I decided to search for them on my other blog I Think in Poems.
Contrails and the Light
Bright white beams
stripe the sky
and climb up high.
Yellowed light beams
stripe the grass
coming then going
in daylight’s pass.
Alone and brittle
the last leaf to fall
a tumbling tempo
a breakable ball.
replaced with blooms
by sunset hues.
a stinging splash
long days to come
storms will pass
Life sings a song
my heart beats
earth’s rhythmic drum
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
So, how do you decide who gets a comment? I am going to play a game tonight. Join me? I will start with one blog, comment, check out the commenter right before me on that post, then read the post of that person. Make sense? If I come to a blog that doesn't have any comments prior to mine, I will pick randomly and start again! Let's get the comments rolling and see all there is out there. I feel like I am missing some great ones and maybe this will help me see someone new. Maybe I will get some fresh inspiration.
You should try it too!
How will you comment today?
Oh, and by the way, my friend Robin's slice today is hilarious and I told her she had to write the story. If you are brave enough, go read it.
Monday, March 24, 2014
Today was a Monday. I don't usually gripe about Mondays. I was looking forward to it. I had great plans for today. Great plans for the week actually and I was ready to tackle it. Then I found out my students had other plans. It was an interruption fest! I could barely get a word in edge wise. It was as though we hadn't been together in weeks. Ugh! I just wanted to teach but instead I had to put out fires and redirect. Oh well, tomorrow will come and we all decided to focus on one thing we can do better tomorrow. Less talking more learning!
This is coming from a person who values talk as a learning tool. However, today it was a bit overrated!
- Talk about ways we can write with dialogue but without the word "said.
- Talk about "invitations to notice" when it comes to dialogue.
- Share with each other where we have successfully used dialogue and maybe parts that weren't so successful.
- Talk about using feelings and action within our dialogue to add detail and make it more interesting.
Hmmmm....lots of talking in there. Huh, well, I guess I will be more direct about what kind of talking we will be doing and maybe I will talk a little less too! :)
Sunday, March 23, 2014
We went on a nature walk to a pioneer homestead where they make maple syrup today. It was fun to watch the process and do some tasting.
Here is the handcrafted bucket they use to collect the sap. See all the ice? It was a cold day.
Here are the three cauldrons they would have used back in the day to boil the sap and reduce it down to the sugars. She is about to dump the bucket of sap into the large cauldron.
Here is a ladle full of cooked sap that has reduced into a caramel colored syrup but not quite ready for tasting.
We then walked into the Nature Center, just a hop, skip and a jump away to find these:
Can you say yum?
In a different exhibit I found this poem next to a large model/globe of the earth.
In case you can't read it, here is the poem:
This grand show
is eternal. It is always sunrise
somewhere; the dew is never
all dried at once; a shower is
forever falling; vapor is ever rising.
Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset,
eternal dawn and gloaming,
on sea and continents and
islands, each in its turn, as
the round earth rolls.
A nice way to end a little journey. The earth as a poem. I say yes, because poetry CAN be found anywhere, even in a little nature center where children play. In a beautiful bottle of sugary syrup. Even in a child's laugh as they marvel over a globe looking for the mitten. It is everywhere I go.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Sometimes you just have to let them go
Let them write
All the wrongs and rights
All the words and ands and ands
The missing parts
The lacks in detail
Sometimes you just have to let them go
To find where they are going
To write write write
The wrong wrong wrong
To get to the right right right
I let them go. I stand back. Sometimes you just have to let them do what they’re going to do. Write. This is the joy of writing. When we write a first draft we don’t usually have someone over our shoulder
Sometimes you just have to let them go.
I did this yesterday. I stood back and let them go. I didn't interfere with my comments or suggestions. I didn't try to lead them to their own conclusions. I didn't ask them to verbalize their thinking or share. My conferences took a backseat and I watched. I watched them write. I watched them think. I waited.
Sometimes you just have to let them go.
Friday, March 21, 2014
Earlier in the week I sliced about talking to Barry Lane on the phone. Since then I have begun to implement some of the ideas from his new book, Force Field for Good. I am so excited by this program and its message. Imagine if we all chose to be our higher selves, what a world it would be!
We scrapped our old rule chart and drew pictures of ourselves. I connected them in a circle writing our one and only classroom rule, Be Your Higher Self. It makes me a little teary every time I look at the chart. It reminds me what a group we have become and how connected we are, like a family. Here is our chart:
Thursday, March 20, 2014
My son asked me a week or so ago, "What's a book worm?" I told him it was just someone who was always reading and loved books.
"Oh, well then I'm a book worm," was his response.
This morning I woke up with pink eye. I was so frustrated, getting a sub for the morning, making plans, you can imagine. While I was getting my coffee my kids were eating breakfast. My son asked if we could go to the library since we weren't going to school right away. Uh, not really on my agenda! Though I appreciated his cute request. Then my daughter started crying because she didn't want to miss, "Read to Someone," at school.
My son paused and looked at her, "Wait, what? You love reading?"
To which my daughter said, "Yes."
Then it went something like this:
Elliot,"Oh, well then you're a book worm."
Jane, "Hey, don't call me that. I just like reading to someone."
Elliot, "Oh, well then you're just half a book worm."
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Kris, from I Survived Today, wrote about her OLW for 2014. It made me realize it has been a while since I reflected on my word, Silence. I started thinking about it more today and realized I am living my word but I can do better. I sat in a school improvement meeting all afternoon today and found myself very silent in the cloud of overwhelming numbers and work to be done. I did a lot of listening but could have used some mental silence. I had the rest of my conferences this evening and listened to parents talk about their child. They were nice conferences and I felt good afterward. On my drive home I was all by myself in the car. I turned off the radio. Looked out the window at the gray and wrote this in my head:
a cloud of white
and mist falls through
the sky is quiet
between the blue
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
I was in the hallway this afternoon talking with the preschool teacher down the hall. I had actually walked in from the playground with her class after seeking her out. We were chatting about preschool writers when I looked down. There, at his locker, was a little guy with a pen and a small notebook. He was intensely writing something down. Here was the conversation:
Me: Whisper, "Oh my goodness, I love this."
Her: "I know." Directed toward him, "Okay, I think snack is waiting for us in the classroom."
Him: "I know, I just have to get this in here."
Her: "What are you writing?'
Him: "I just saw an eagle and I have to get it in my notebook before I forget."
Her: "Oh, okay."
I watched for a moment, then I couldn't help myself.
Me: "What is your name?"
Him: "James." He doesn't look up, I am clearly interrupting important work. Really, what was I thinking? So I continued to watch a moment. He cleaned up his notebook.
I put my hand out, "James, I am your new biggest fan. Do you think when we see each other we could give each other a thumbs up since we are both in the super awesome writing club?"
He shakes my hand, a little stunned, "Well, I like animals. My book is all about animals. Like at least 100, or 20...at least."
Me: "Can you count to 20?"
Me: "Well, keep writing about those animals James."
I don't usually visit the afternoon preschool class, so James was new to me. His enthusiasm for writing is clear. He is a writer. I've been giddy ever since.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Today was a day I will remember.
I am posting today, on Two Writing Teachers, about Barry Lane and the session of his that I attended on Saturday. Be sure to check it out at 8:00 tonight. As I wrote this piece last night I was thinking how neat it would be to interview Barry and find out more about his new book that is coming out this May. I'd love to review it and use some of his ideas. I decided last night I would call his organization on Monday morning.
My kids were off to the gym for PE this morning and I was finally collecting my thoughts for the day. I made the call. A very nice voice on the phone listened to my introduction and request to get an advanced copy of the book and possibly interview Barry. Her response shocked me a bit:
"Well, I think Barry is right here. Let me get him for you."
I quickly wrote down my name on paper and why I was calling while I was on hold in case I totally froze up when he came on the phone. There was no need to fret, talking to Barry was like talking to an old friend. It was great. While I was talking to him my principal walked in my room to set up a meeting with me, noticing I was on the phone, he backed out slowly. He could tell I was excited and focused at the same time.
Later when I went to my principal's office he said, "I could tell you were talking to some writing person again!" I had to laugh. He knows where my passion lies.
After the phone call and meeting with my principal I quickly went down the hall to my best buddy to tell her the news. We got giddy together. Then I called my mom and texted my husband. Isn't it funny how everybody has people they look up to? I think Barry Lane is on my list of rock stars!
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Here is a little take away from the MRA conference I attended yesterday. I went to a session with Colby Sharp, Linda Urban, Katherine Applegate and Lisa McMann. Their message was to write, take risks and not to be afraid of failing. Not everything you write will be or needs to be groundbreaking. Stop trying to be perfect and make a mistake right away so the writing stays real.
This made me think of one of my notebooks. When I got it and started writing in it I wanted it to stay perfect. Then I made a mistake on the first page. I decided at that moment it didn't matter. However, my initial feelings were this notebook will stay beautiful. Then I realized beauty wasn't going to mean flawless.
The session was very inspiring and on my drive home last night this is what swirled in my head:
"Writing notebooks are a playground and safe." Linda Urban
"Don't be discouraged, you're making a difference every single minute." Lisa McMann
"Everything you do matters." Katherine Applegate
The session ended with a statement from Colby Sharp that teachers are awesome. He encouraged teachers to, "Tell your story. If you don't, who will?" I couldn't agree more. Blogging and talking with others about what we are doing in our classrooms is the only way to shift the eyes of those looking down on teachers these days.
So, get yourself a notebook, make it a playground where you can kick dirt around and it's okay. Write about your frustrations in education these days and then write about what you are doing to change kids lives. Write about what you do to make a difference every single minute. Write what matters, because in the end it's the people. What we do to shape them matters more than any shifting eyes or judgmental glances. Your students matter, you matter and so does your story.
Saturday, March 15, 2014
When I go to conferences I get the, "Are you Chalk-A-Bration Betsy?" Mind you, this doesn't happen often and I think the first person to do this was Franki Sibberson (who to this day introduces me to people this way). But when it does, it is the coolest feeling. Today someone said, "Chalk-A-Bration is a movement." Really, I thought? A Movement? I guess it kind of is. A movement putting a focus on poetry. To build community. To share a piece of ourselves with the world in a positive way. A way that makes people smile. I was thinking about this a lot today and it made me happy. I didn't ever think Chalk-A-Bration would be much of anything. I thought it would be something I did on my own and maybe someone else would join in occasionally. Although, the winter months have been tough, I sense a lot of participants in the near future. I felt like some of the people I met today were itching to get their chalk out and get started. So exciting. I can hardly wait for March 31st!
Friday, March 14, 2014
It's quiet except for the plane flying over head and the loud banging of the door down the hall, okay, maybe not so quiet. The mini-fridge just kicked on and now there is a noisy hum too. I'm in my hotel room winding down from the day and preparing for tomorrow (MRA Conference). I am sitting here trying to decide what I want to do with the next two hours I have before bed. I need to go to the bookstore. I could do that right now. I need to read slices and comment. I need to finish this slice. Those all sound like good things. I should probably eat something and stop to buy a water somewhere.
Oh boy, now I hear a baby crying.
I'm beginning to worry about what kind of night sleep I'm going to get.
Then again, I am a sound sleeper usually and it is the end of a long week. I shouldn't need to worry.
Okay, what else do I need to do? Oh, right. I need to make a "plan B" session plan in case I get to a session and it is full. I need to find a place to eat breakfast. Hopefully there is a Panera close by. I was going to say, call my husband to tell him I've arrived safely, but he just called me, so I can check that off!
I think that should do it. Off I go!
Thursday, March 13, 2014
It happened again. Another snow day. This is the second one this week. We have professional development tomorrow so that means no students. That means I saw my students for two days this week and won't have seen them for five when we return on Monday. Half my conferences need to be rescheduled. I couldn't get to my school to even work on my own there yesterday because no roads had been plowed. Then there was today. I knew school was cancelled. I had gotten the call last night. I wondered:
What should I do today? Go to school? Do I really want to take the kids there? I won't actually get anything done or I will just have to plant them in front of a screen to keep them occupied so I can clean a space on my desk. Worth it? No, not really.
I could clean my house! Well, maybe a little anyway.
I could get my things packed and around for my trip this weekend to MRA. Eh, maybe later.
I could sit on my computer and blindly look at the screen to think about my post for Monday or my overview for a conference this summer that is due, like probably yesterday. Oh, it can wait.
I could read my new book. UM, WINNER!
That's really all I felt like doing. I wanted to read and write just for myself today. Not for a post or a lesson or anybody. Just for fun. Read letters from poets, (my new book from yesterday's post, Seeing the Blue in Between). Listen to their advice. Try things out and write. I sprinkled in some other things. A little cleaning here and a shamrock shake for my kids there along with a little bathroom scrubbing and dishy washing. I do really need to get to some other things today. At least for now it felt good to do something for myself instead of meeting some other demand or deadline.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
I got a new book in the mail today! Seeing the Blue in Between compiled by Paul B. Janeczko.
I'm almost halfway through it and really enjoy how quickly it reads. It is a book of advice and inspiration for young poets on their writing journey. There are 32 letters, written to the reader, throughout the book written by acclaimed poets who share a bit of their own poetry journey or tell young poets to be brave and write on. Each shares advice and then a poem or three follows. There are a lot of things I like about the book so far but my favorite is hearing the different voices from each poet. They each have a unique way of sharing this hopeful poetic message. They talk about their youth, their failures and moments of wonder. They share where they themselves find poems and how to look for them. I wish I had this book about twenty some years ago when I was a teen. It would have been nice to hear advice from these poets. I might have carried on with writing as a kid instead of stopping.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
I'm sitting across from her.
She's tired, she's run down,
she's had enough and here I sit.
I sit with concern
as I see each crease in her eye
deepen with fatique and worry.
I wish for her.
I wish for her son.
I wish it were different.
At a loss.
A sparkling tear, almost runs down
but she breathes and I grin
and we begin again.
But there are so many qualities he has going for him.
He has such a big heart.
We care for him and his success.
But it's hard
and though I'm tired
I might be run down
I am not done
and I will never stop
and I will be here everyday
and I will wish it
to be different.
Monday, March 10, 2014
I look at a day like today and I start to see a thaw happening. Writable surfaces are once again revealing themselves. It delights me. My husband has been chopping ice on our driveway, preparing it. The sun was melting more of it, though the driveway is wet, I hope it will dry soon enough. I will need to be patient as we await another snow storm this week and freezing temps. However, I know a day like today means spring is also waiting. Waiting for its chance to be more than just a presence but a semi-permanent state.
Once it is here, I will no longer need to write my chalk poems on paper or easels. I will be able to abandon the little chalk boards in my classroom and I will be free to choose from sidewalks, driveways and parking lots anywhere (well, almost anywhere).
Let the chalketry commence, (soon anyway).
No idea why I have an affinity for chalk? I celebrate poetry the last day of each month with a chalked poem or illustration for any passerby to see. It is a fun way to celebrate poetry and playful chalk at the same time.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
At this moment I have 14 books on hold at the best library ever. I am a bit partial, but I really love my library. It is right in the center of downtown among the hustle and bustle of life. Now, it's not the prettiest library I've ever seen. There are many that look more fancy, have more seating maybe even more books. That does not diminish my love. It is my library. It has to be my favorite. It is right next to the river. We always have to stop and look at the water when we visit. My kids have to walk the handicap ramp every time and we can almost never leave without too many books. (There might actually be such a thing, when you can barely carry them, it could be too many). But, we do it anyway. My daughter and I finished Freckle Juice by Judy Blume last night and my son finished his book all about the underground railroad. Now we will be off to pick up two books about the life of Harriet Tubman and as many picture books as we can carry for my daughter (who am I kidding, me too).
As the day ticks along my strep infected child lays on the couch with the iPad. My son is playing with his electronic snap circuits making every single project. Our plans to go see the Lego Movie are put on hold and I have just finished making the grocery list.
Looking at the week ahead I'm excited because on Friday night I leave for MRA and can't wait to see and meet new people. Are you going? Please let me know in the comments! I can't believe I get to hear R.J. Palacio speak and see Barry Lane talk about writing and kindness through song. Colby Sharp, Linda Urban, Katherine Applegate, & Lisa McMann are presenting on a culture of creativity and passion. I will finally meet Ruth McNally Barshaw, a friend of my sister's, and get to see her amazing drawings come alive in person. See what I mean, I might just burst!
Until then, I will go check on my daughter, listen to the newest snap circuit sound my son has created, print the grocery list for my husband and prepare for my trip to the library.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Friday, March 7, 2014
I have a nice drive to work. I am lucky. We drive past farms, ponds, woods, quiet towns. I have been missing the herons and egrets that normally frequent a pond we pass. I have been missing the greens and the buds that peek out in spring. I have been missing the runners and the walkers with their dogs. But, this morning I saw an old friend. Mr. Sun. He was out in full force this morning and then again on my way home. I was able to take my coat off and didn't have to warm up my car before leaving school. My car said it was 46 degrees outside. 46! I have missed these temps. Now all I need is a 60 degree day to make it official. March 20th can come, but until it hits 60 I don't feel like spring has really arrived. Bring on the sunshine!
Here is my morning sun.
Say hello to my afternoon sun.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Today my students had their dress rehearsal for their "Too Much Noise" singing performance. It was so sweet to watch them sing, stand together and smile so big. I look forward to seeing their performance tonight which will undoubtedly be even better.
My daughter is also in first grade this year, along with my first graders, and I was lucky enough to see her perform as well. It is amazing how children grow up so fast and watching her up there was a delight. She is such a little leader and did all her hand motions correctly. It isn't about perfection but it reminds me how independent she has become.
When all was "sung" and done we made our way back to the classroom for dismissal. I watched them all quickly get their things organized and ready. We filed out and I put them on their buses. I have had the privilege of watching them grow over the past year and a half and their independence amazes me as well.
As much as I have loved working with first graders this year I was reminded that in a few short six months I will start all over again with kindergartners. It will be such a shift but again a wonderful opportunity to watch a group grow, change and become little independent people.