Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday Slice of Life: Time for a Stretch Check!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Betsy, Dana, Beth, and Anna
for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday 
                                                      and nurturing our writing lives.

It's a 5th Tuesday.  Time to check in and reflect about this year's OLW (one little word), stretch. Sometimes I feel that I may not be measuring up, but then I remind myself that there are many ways to stretch oneself.

First, there's my new daily stretch in the shower.  I love that moment of reaching for the sky that I've added to my morning routine.  It feels good, and it reminds me that growing often requires a bit of stretching.  I do wish that I could grow a couple of inches by stretching!

Our friends in Idaho, Jolene and Walt persuaded me to kayak on Lake Emerald with them during our  visit this past week.  It's been years since I've been in a kayak, so it was definitely a stretch for me.  But so easy to do with their gentle assistance.  Sara stretched by launching her inaugural voyage on the standing paddle board.

Then I read Terje's post on Saturday, and I loved the way she celebrated her choices.  I decided to borrow three phrases from her post for my summer goals:  cuddle with a book, scribble words, and snap scenes.  I didn't want to forget them, so I recorded them in the front of my new blank book, a gift from a friend.  And then I added two words below those phrases - Stretch Goal.  Yesterday while surfing the web, I discovered the perfect stretch goal for summer.  It's related to my "cuddle with a book" goal.  It's the Summer Book Bingo created by the Seattle Public Library.  Because it's summer (and summer is the perfect time to be non-linear), my goal is to complete ten squares on the bingo card.  I'm not concerned with completion of rows or columns, but in order to "stretch" myself a bit, I'll challenge myself by completing the "out of my comfort zone" square and the "translated from another language" square.  You may want to print the Summer Book Bingo card to stretch your literary muscles.

Finally, I'll share the serendipitous discovery that I made yesterday near Yakima at a fruit stand/antique warehouse.  We checked out the fruit and decided to buy cherries.  But first, we wandered the aisles to "stretch" our legs a bit before completing the final leg of a Burley, ID to Seattle, WA ten hour road trip.  Even though I rarely purchase anything, I enjoy wandering the booths of antique stores.  It's a stroll down memory lane as I see items that once filled the homes of family and friends.

I turned a corner, glanced at some depression era glass, and then looked again.  Behind a plain iridescent saucer was a bowl that looked like the pattern of my mother's birthday cake plate.  This plate is one of the treasures that I inherited after my mom's death.   Homemade birthday cakes were always served on this special plate.  My mom said it was a Christmas gift during the 40's from my dad's sister, Aunt Estelle.  I picked up the bowl, clasped it to my chest, and wandered in search of Sara.  I asked her if she thought it was the same pattern.  She agreed with me that it was.  So that's how stretching my legs led me to discover this beautiful berry bowl that does indeed match the birthday cake plate.

I'm excited by the ways that stretch inserts itself into my life.  In my January post, I mentioned that I was interested in gentle stretching.  In my March post, I stretched my poetic muscles.  I hope you will find ways to embrace your OLW during this summer season.  I'll be back in September (the next 5th Tuesday) for another reflection on my ongoing journey with stretch, my OLW for 2015.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Celebrate This Week!

    Join us each weekend for Celebrate this week with Ruth Ayres.  
 When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build.
  A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

I'm visiting my friend Jolene in Idaho.  A few highlights from our time together:

1.  Jolene showed Sara how to use her long-arm quilting machine to complete the quilt she made for Will's graduation.  Jolene helped me make tied quilts for both my kids when they headed off to college.  It's always good to have a friend who quilts!
Jolene and Sara in action.  They sent me to bed at 11.
The next day Sara said binding the quilt would take about two movies.  
She finished before the second movie was over!
In between movies, we kayaked on Emerald Lake
(Sara claims that Walt and Jolene are the only people on 
earth who could persuade her mother to get into a kayak),
 and Sara tried paddle boarding for the first time! 
Will shows off his graduation quilt!
2.  I'd forgotten how busy life is in a household with teenagers.  Jake was off to driver's ed every morning, then had to be picked up for work, and picked up after work.  He finished driver's ed and received his official permit on Friday.
Jake chauffeured us to the movie last night. He's a fine driver,
(currently working on those six months/fifty hours of supervised driving).  
Lauren's been busy.  Hanging out with friends, sleepovers,  yoga on paddle boards, working at the regatta, and working in her dad's office.  She breezes
through occasionally for showers and refueling.

Even though this didn't happen during my visit, I'm fascinated
by this geodesic dome that Justin designed and constructed. 
with his family over Thanksgiving break a couple of years ago.
Jolene and I had fun brainstorming ways they could use it. 
Jake and Justin in front of the dome

3.  Jolene and I have enjoyed
shopping, eating (lunch out every day + Jolene's fabulous cooking),
 talking, laughter, more talking, tears, and stories galore. 
Today we took a morning walk along the river. 
Snake River
Love the sky in this picture!
4.  My four days at the Graham's home remind me of a song 
I learned as a Brownie in girl scouting: 
"Make new friends, but keep the old,
One is silver, and the other gold."

Today I celebrate a friendship that is almost 30 years old, even though we
only spent four of those years living near each other.   

Friday, June 26, 2015

Poetry Friday

Dear friends in Idaho coax me onto the water.  Here's my poem to capture our precious evening together:

Launched from muddy rocky shores 
toward smooth center of Emerald Lake
we trail intrepid daughter.
Her serene stance
belies dancing butterflies 
of maiden paddleboard venture.
Two friends pedal orange kayak,
one energetic dog slices across our path
gleefully retrieving stick.
Three bobbing buoys 
become bulwarks on far shore. 
As we draw closer buoys transform,
three pelicans soar into evening sky, 
our evening's grace note!  
                                            - Ramona Behnke

                                                                             Head over to Carol's Corner
for this week's roundup of poetry love. 
Thanks for hosting, Carol!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday SOL: Book Club Practices w/ Chris Lehman (All Write 2015)

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Betsy, Dana, Beth, and Anna
for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday 
                                                      and nurturing our writing lives.

Fellow educators understand my dilemma.  It was the first conference session on Friday at All Write 2015, and I had to choose between Seymour Simon and NF Writing, Lester Laminack's Writers ARE Readers, Writing NF through Mentor Texts with Georgia Heard, or Chris Lehman's Book Club Practices that Invite Deep Thinking and Strong Conversation.  Since I'm retired and run an after school book club, I felt a strong pull to attend Chris Lehman's session.  I'd heard Seymour Simon at the Thursday night banquet, I planned to give up lunch with friends to squeeze in Georgia Heard's session, and Lester Laminack would be delivering the closing address at the end of the day.  Decisions like this are hard to make, but I was compensated well for my decision.  To quote my own tweet:  "Best.Session.Ever!"

Lehman began by making a distinction between book clubs and literature circles.  In literature circles, students fill out role sheets for compliance, not for thinking about books.  (I believe that the terms can and are used interchangeably.)  Good practitioners of book clubs/literature circles have reached beyond role sheets to help students think deeply and prepare for strong conversations.  The complete title of Lehman's session was The Power to Build Big Ideas:  Book Club Practices That Give Students Ownership and Push Their Thinking.

He emphasized that book clubs have three components:  good conversation, social interaction, and reading.  The most important component is reading.  To talk thoughtfully about reading, we must start with reading thoughtfully.  In order to help students read thoughtfully, we want to look at what is worth talking about in a book.  He walked us through increasingly complex texts and helped us encourage thoughtful reading through careful examination of characters, plot, and setting.  He gave us an important phrase to use in our explicit modeling with students :  "What we know about books/texts like these . . ."  The more explicit we can be in our conversations about the things that happen in books (in regards to character development, plot, and setting), the better the student discussions will become.  This was the aha discovery of this workshop for me!

To prepare for good conversations, students should understand that we want to see the process, not the products of their reading lives.  Their jottings need to occur while they read, not when they finish a book.  Writing while reading gives the teacher a lens into the the student's life as a reader.  A quick scan of student jottings or annotations that occur while reading allows the teacher to look for patterns and see what the student does well and what the student needs to do better.  While writing to get ready for conversation allows us to see student thinking, more importantly it prepares students for conversations in book clubs.  As we give students additional tools to show their thinking, offer choices in how to respond, and make this process intellectually interesting, we increase the likelihood  that students come to book club ready to have good conversations.  (Watch for a future blog post that will explain three of the tools Lehman shared with us:  "Play A Note," "Using Phrases that Link Ideas," and "Using Qualifying Language.")

The third component of book clubs, social interaction, received the least attention by Lehman, perhaps because there are already numerous resources that address this part of the process and perhaps because we've focused so much on this part of book clubs in the past.  

He concluded with three words:  Read, Think, Grow and a reminder that we are the coaches for book clubs.  As we teach strategies to enhance thoughtful reading, prepare for good conversation, and encourage social interaction, book clubs can and will be viable tools in our classrooms to guide students to read, write, and talk thoughtfully.

Book clubs are one of the most rewarding ways that I've interacted with students to share my love of books.  It is an exciting journey that began in my graduate school classes with Dr. Diane Clay, continued with students in both my 3rd and 6th grade classrooms, was nurtured in a 3-day Literature Circles workshop in Santa Fe, and continues post-retirement as I sponsor an after-school literacy club at "my" middle school.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Celebrate This Week!

  Join us each weekend for Celebrate this week with Ruth Ayres.  
 When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build.
  A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

1.  No rental car for me
I text from the airport in Seattle, discover that Linda is already at the airport in Denver, that Ruth is baking pies, and that Mary Helen is in summer school.  
After a few texts and checking in again in Chicago, Tim (Mary Helen's son) steps forward to be my "return to South Bend" chauffeur in shorts.
Linda and I share a delightful, scenic drive to Warsaw
via county roads and byways
(that's our story and I'm sticking to it).

2.  Gazebo time at Wyndham Gardens in Warsaw
After the banquet with Seymour Simon (where some of us
share a table with Georgia Heard), we retire to the gazebo.  
Stories, shared sessions from All Write, 
vomit stories (inspired by Christy's session earlier in the day),
lots of laughter and more stories are the order of the hour.
The sky treats us to this spectacular sunset!

3.  Cancelled Chicago to Seattle flight
Rescheduled flights grant me an extra hour of sleep.
I am rerouted through Minneapolis.  They have a mall in their airport!
I don't stop since I've already blown my budget on books at All Write.
I arrive home earlier than my original flight!

4. Hydrangeas are starting to bloom

5. Instagrams from Sara and Will in Glacier National Park
They promise a return trip with us before the glaciers melt. 
They can stake out the gentle hikes for when we join them!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Poetry Friday: Poetic Reflections on a Thursday at All Write

Thursday at the All Write conference in Warsaw, Indiana was filled with these wonderful celebrations of poets and poetry:

Poetic Moment #1:  In Christy Rush Levine's session, Structuring Reading Workshop for the Magic that Might Go Down, we were treated to Ted Kooser's poem "Selecting a Reader."  This poem is her choice for the first shared text of the school year, scheduled for day two of a new school year.

Writers are my rock stars!

Poetic Moment #2:  Georgia Heard joined our table tonight at the All Write dinner.  She quickly discovered that we are a group of friends united through our shared writing on our blogs.  Our table included writers from Washington, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Tennessee.  And more bloggers were scattered throughout the crowd at dinner. Georgia graciously indulged my request for a photo with her and Ruth Ayres.

Poetic Moment #3:  Our guest speaker at the evening banquet, Seymour Simon, shared Walt Whitman's poem, "When I Heard the Learned Astronomer."  As we listened to the final words of the poem, "...from time to time looked up in perfect silence at the stars," the room was filled with the kind of "deep sigh elation" that can only come when a roomful of teachers recognize they are in the hands of a masterful storyteller.  We loved the stories he shared of the writing life he began as a second grader with a story about space monsters.  His stories were woven with threads of poetry.  We were treated to two more recitations:  Robert Frost's "Fire and Ice," and May Swenson's poem, "The Universe."  He reminded us that poetry and nonfiction are closely related.  Both narrative forms are mysterious and poetic.  It was gratifying to see how Simon used poetry to share stories about his writing life and this mysterious, magnificent universe in which we live.

                                                                    Head over to A Year of Reading
for this week's roundup of poetry love. 
Thanks for hosting, MaryLee!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Tuesday SOL: Book Babble

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Betsy, Dana, Beth, and Anna
for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday 
                                                      and nurturing our writing lives.

Thursday, June 11, was our last meeting of the school year for Books, Brownies, and Beyond, our after school book club.  Far too quickly, it was 4 o'clock and time to say goodbye until our summer meetings in July and August.  All middle school students including incoming 6th graders are welcome to join us at the Mercer Island Public Library on July 16th and August 6th, from 4-5 p.m. Bring books to share, come learn about great reads, and enjoy cookie bars with us.  You don't have to attend during the school year to join us for the summer meetings.  
                                  Check out the smiles emanating from this group!

I chose the arun* form to celebrate our final gathering.
*arun -  fifteen-line poem in three sets of five lines. Each set of five lines follows the same syllable structure: starting with one syllable and increasing by one (1/2/3/4/5 — 3x).  Fellow blogger, GirlGriot, introduced the arun to me.  

time to talk
books and peruse
Ms. B's blue book bins.
cookies and
favorite books
with one another.
surrounds us.
Goodbye until
our July meeting!