Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chalk-a-bration with 6th graders!

Today I join Betsy Hubbard for Chalk-a-bration.  I participated in two previous chalk-a-brations, once by myself and once with the children of a friend.  When I realized this morning that today was chalk-a-bration, I scrapped my lesson plans and encouraged my students to search for or to write sidewalk poetry to share.

It was delightful to celebrate the last day of poetry month outside with my students.  And we even welcomed Mr. Sunshine to our celebration.  With temperatures in the 80s, it was an absolutely perfect day for Chalk-a-bration!







Tuesday, April 29, 2014

It's a 5th Tuesday!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by 
Two Writing Teachers.
I wanted to hang onto my OLW (one little word) this year, so I made a commitment to revisit it on each 5th Tuesday of 2014 - April, July, September, and December.  Somehow, this 5th Tuesday arrived rather quickly.  Today I'll share my thinking and my journey through some words beginning with "s" that shaped this year's search for my OLW.

Search, seek for serendipity.  No, serendipity just happens!  It doesn't require searching or seeking, it just asks me to be present.

Slow down to notice life and savor it.  As I've lived more days as a writer, I find myself noticing my life more and looking forward to writing about it.

Settle down - I like these two words!  Here are some dictionary explanations:
   - to become quiet, calm, or orderly
   - to begin to live a quiet and steady life
   - to put yourself in a comfortable position
   - to become quiet and begin giving your attention to something
I like some of these words, but others don't speak to me.  While I long for calm and order, the words that call to me are comfort and attention.

After searching, seeking, and slowing down, I settle for the comfort and call of SAVOR, my OLW for 2014.

Yesterday, I realized that I hadn't visited Slater Park in April.  Earlier this year, I decided to savor moments there throughout the year.  I love that my visits there are a delicious opportunity to savor this special spot.  Here are some favorite photos from yesterday's visit:




SAVOR
Ignore the list and the "have-tos"
Honor the "want-tos"
Grab the moment, it doesn't last forever

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Celebrating new babies, parents, and writers!

                                 So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres! 
                      It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday.

Discover. Play. Build.
A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

1.  Time with Danae and Annabelle!
 Danae, one of our teachers out on maternity leave, stopped by with darling Annabelle. 
It was fun to chat with Danae regarding her wondrous journey into motherhood.  
I even stuck around long enough for Annabelle to wake up 
from a quick nap with smiles and coos for everyone! 

2.  Fabulous parents!
One parent shopped for prizes for our celebration.  
Another set up the google docs for our slicing celebrations and came by to help serve slices.  
Many parents sent slices and treats for our celebration.  
Another parent baked two cakes, stayed to help us set up and serve food, 
and then she and her daughter put up the posters of students' best four slices in the hallway.  

3.  My student writers!
My teacher heart sings as I've wandered through writer's notebook entries for March.  
It's great to hear students discuss their growth as writers.  
Check out this slice from one of my students:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Can you tell that I love trees?

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by 
Two Writing Teachers.
Several weeks ago, a friend told me that my beloved trees outside my classroom window would be disappearing - all in the name of progress!  It's made the last few weeks with the blooms of spring even more poignant, knowing that they will not be there next year.  Thank goodness, I won't be there either.  I love that my classroom window includes a view of these trees year round.  In the fall I watch the leaves fall as my favorite season of the year arrives.  Sometimes we get the rare treat of snow covered branches during winter months.  But my favorite tree time is springtime when these trees take their individual turns at sharing their beautiful blossoms with me and my students.  In 2013, I shared tree photos in my Lifted Up post. And this year during March SOL, I shared my Tree Philosophy 101 comparing the trees and their growth patterns to my students.

And then . . . I held my breath . . . especially when a friend 
indicated that the "ugly tree" might be dead.  

I watched, and waited, checked on it during spring break, 
and finally, last week the blooms appeared.

Each day the tree is more beautiful, but I shuddered today when the wind whisked away more than its proper share of beautiful pink blooms.   Normally, I'm content knowing that the gorgeous blooms will return again next spring.  However, my trees will be cut down so that portables can be moved into their place.  Our portable village is being relocated, a new road is being built (where the portables are now), and construction will begin for a new part of our campus.  Those of us who have been in the front of the building will eventually be in the back of the building, and until the construction is complete (two years down the road), the portables will be positioned outside our classrooms (20 feet away).  I picked a good time to retire!

In a meeting last week our administrators mentioned that the trees will probably be cut down before school is out.  I pray that the wheels of progress move slowly so that I won't be there.  But just in case, I'm planning to pull the shades and play loud music.  My students and I will refuse to witness or listen to this sad event.   In the interim, keep your fingers crossed for us that the dirty deed gets done after school hours (no, I'm usually still there then).  What I'm hoping for is that the wheels of progress turn very slowly (think July) so that I can be spared viewing this tragedy.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The ugly, rainy, Easter bunnies

                                  So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres! 
                       It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday.
Discover. Play. Build.
A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

I know it's a strange title.  It was too long, so I deleted all the nouns except for the last one and now you'll need to read the post to understand today's celebrations.  

1.  Our ugly tree bloomed!  One of my March slices was about the individual pace of the trees that bloom on our front school lawn.  I've been very concerned about the ugly tree, and even drove by to check on it once during spring break.  I was so afraid that it was dead, but it bloomed this week.  Everything in its own time!
 
2.  Even rainy days are beautiful.  I captured this downpour during my planning period on Wednesday.  I love how the liquid silver raindrops showed up in the picture.   
 
3.  I enjoyed an Easter brunch this morning with our faith community, and my neighbors and their four children joined me.  It shook me out of my doldrums, so I came home and dug out the bunnies to decorate the mantle.  Each bunny reminds me of special memories.  I'm looking forward to a glorious day at church tomorrow celebrating our risen Lord!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Savoring Sister Time

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by 
Two Writing Teachers.
I visited my sister, Kay, in sunny CA last week for spring break.  We shopped, we baked, we watched movies, we dined out, we laughed and we reminisced. We hadn't seen each other for almost two years (far too long).  I've attempted to capture our joy of being together and the special time we spent perusing an old photo album in this poem.

Sisters
shoulder to shoulder
side by side
arms touching
hearts embracing

Slowly 
turning the pages
savoring black and white images
enticed by memories
of days long past
 
Places erased
but not forgotten
loved ones gone
but still remembered
lovingly captured in time

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring Break, Blossoms, and Poetry!

                               So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres! 
                       It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday.

Discover. Play. Build.
A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!

1.  Spring break in California filled with sister time, sunshine, lemons, reading time and extra sleep time!  We shopped for a new chair for my sister's desk, and watched "Frozen" (I hadn't seen it yet), "Call the Midwives," and "Catching Fire."  We enjoyed glorious sunshine every day I was there and filled my hunger for Mexican food with frequent stops.  I picked 3 buckets of lemons from my sister's tree. (Did you know that lemon trees have thorns?)  I slept in most days, finished Wake Up Missing, and started Rooftoppers.  


2.  Blossoms everywhere!
The cherry trees at our public library, 
this tree discovered on a Friday evening walk with husband,  
 and red rhododendrons on our lane (snapped this morning). 

3.  A new favorite anthology of poems!
Run to your nearest indie bookstore and pick up a copy of Firefly July, a delightful new anthology selected byPaul B. Janeczko, that takes us through the seasons with a year of very short poems.  It is gorgeously illustrated by Melissa Sweet.  As you meander through its pages, you'll recognize familiar poets and poems, but also discover new poems. 

My favorite new discovery:

Uses for Fog

to conquer skyscrapers 
to make a magic cloak
to become thistledown

-Eve Merriam

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Creating Readers


Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by 
Two Writing Teachers.
I planned ahead
For this post during spring break
Created a book spine poem.

I almost gave up
Posting from strange computer
Then success found me!

Located the pic
But couldn't import to blog
Book spine poem sans pic!

Technology - 1 
Me - 0, but after break
I'll insert the pic!


Book Spine Poem sans (without)  Pic:

Day by Day
Igniting a Passion for Reading
In the Middle
"You Gotta BE the Book"
To Understand
Middle School Readers

Igniting my passion for reading is why I read kid books on my break. 
Just finished:  heartrending novel-in-verse, Dust of Eden by Mariko Naga about the Japanese internment
Currently reading:  Kate Messner's Wake Up Missing
Next in stack Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

Home from California, here's the picture of my book spine poem:




Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sunshine, here I come!

                                 So excited to join Saturday Celebrations with Ruth Ayres! 
                       It is fun to live my week thinking about what I will celebrate on Saturday.

Discover. Play. Build.
A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!
  • Poetry Invitations - We tried out poems of address, list poems, and persona poems this week.  We're following Amy at Poetry Farm each day.   How perfect that she had a persona poem the day after I introduced the form to my classes!  She gives a wonderful window into her writing process each day.  I feel like I'm being tutored by one of the poetry goddesses.  
  • Novels-in-Verse - One of my students is reading Home of the Brave (a personal favorite), another returned Out of the Dust, and we read Words with Wings on Friday.  I send them on spring break with these words:   "They (words) fly in, silent as sunrise, tickle my imagination, and carry my thoughts away." 
  • Spring Break - I'm off to California to visit my sister, Kay.  She says I'm only allowed to grade papers between the hours of 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.  I'm bringing some easy papers for her to grade.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Chocolate Cake, Pics, and an Arun to Celebrate!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by 
Two Writing Teachers.

During each week in March I selected a random day to share orange slice candy with my students.  It was a sweet salute to the March Slice of Life Story Challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.

On Monday, the last day of our March marathon of writing, we enjoyed a chocolate sheet cake in each class inscribed with the words, "Happy Day Slicer!"  I wanted to write "slicers," but the powers that be decreed only one letter "s" in my set of sugar letters.  I realize now that I could have switched the inscription to read "Happy Day Writers."
I love the beautiful smiles on my writers' faces!
My 1/2 block of platinum slicers - 31 days of writing daily!
My 4/5 block of platinum slicers - 31 days of writing daily!















A platinum slicer celebrates his arrival at the finish line!






One
orange 
slice a week
celebrates our
marathon in March.
On
Monday
chocolate
cake sweetens a
last day of slicing!
We
listen,
discover,
and notice more
moments to savor.

               

I couldn't leap into poetry month without an attempt  at capturing our celebrations in an arun, a 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). Explore this form with GirlGriot who introduced it to me. See my inaugural attempt here and last week's poem savoring sunshine at Slater Beach here.