Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Slice of Life: Thank you, Danielle!

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

We've all been there, at the intersection of technology and frustration.  Today it occurred as I tried to register for this fall's Poetry Camp at Western Washington University.  For some reason, when I tried to register, the site indicated I had previously used the system.   That's when I remembered that last winter I had attended the WWU Literature Conference.  I used the "forgot my user name button", and my user name was emailed to me.  But then when I entered it, it was unrecognized.  

After several rounds of circular hell, I resorted to calling the number listed on the registration page. That individual is out of town until June 29 (the day I fly home), and June 30 is the early bird registration deadline.  Afraid that I might get busy and forget to register, I resorted to trying another number at the university.  This individual promptly told me that she could connect me to the aforementioned individual (who is out of town until Thursday).  

When I mentioned my problem in greater detail, she connected me to an IT person who was unable to help me.  However, this person managed to pass my call on to Danielle who solved the problem.  It turns out that my earlier registration was by paper, and even though the system thought I had a user name, I didn't.  Danielle arranged to give me a user name and password and SUCCESS!  I'm registered.  Danielle is my heroine of the day!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Celebrate This Week: A Homecoming and a Wedding!

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. Teddy is here!
My grandson Theodore, (Teddy), arrived Wednesday afternoon 
weighing in at 9 lbs. 2 oz. and 22 inches long.
Here's the proud Dad!
So glad Grandma Barb is there to swaddle this 
sweet boy and help the new parents!
Teddy and Mom headed home on Sunday! 
Lance and I head their way in eleven days
(but who's counting?).  
Proud Daddy's caption:  "Somebody is
really happy that we are all home.  :)

2.  Kara's wedding
I spent the last two days being part of #bridetribe
for my niece Kara's wedding in Oklahoma.
We loved adding all her fun touches (thanks, Pinterest)
to the venue on Friday, prepping food on Saturday,
and enjoying a lovely ceremony with 
this beautiful bride and her handsome groom, Lawton.
The bride and her sweet Mama!
My brother, Karl, with the new couple,
Kara and Lawton Tyson! 
And they're on their way!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Slice of Life: A Note for Caitlin - Welcome to the Profession!

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

Our faith community is a small one, but we're like a small family.  So this past weekend when a young man's girlfriend visited Seattle and then came to church on Sunday, we were excited to meet her.  I was especially excited when I learned that Caitlin will begin a year of intern teaching in 8th grade Language Arts this fall.  I wanted to show her all my favorite teaching books, introduce her to all my favorite bloggers, and share some of my favorite web sites.  I wanted to assure her that this profession is worthy of her finest efforts.  

Last night I attended our 8th grade graduation.  They are the last group of sixth graders I taught before retirement, now headed off to high school.  Our graduation speakers are always the students themselves.  They write a memoir piece about their middle school years and from those pieces, our faculty select a few pieces to be shared at graduation.  Prominently featured in the writing that is shared is the importance that a teacher played in a student's life.  And Caitlin, you may be that teacher for some student!  

But back to my original intent of this slice . . . sending a note to share books, blogs, and links. Caitlin, I think the most important book you could read this summer is one that I read as I reentered the classroom after staying home for fourteen years, In the Middle by Nancie Atwell.  
In the Middle by Nancie Attwell
There's a third edition available now.  I had the first edition which I replaced in 2002 when I found this used "like new" second edition at Powell's Books while my kids were attending a Dave Matthews concert.  (Yes, I'm a book nerd who writes the date and where I purchase a book inside the front cover).

And I must include three other titles from my bookcase of professional books that I've loved and used frequently.  It's totally impossible for me to stop with one recommendation!

And now, I'd like to introduce you to the world of teachers who blog.  It's an incredible way to grow your own PD (professional development).  My involvement with teachers who write began at Two Writing Teachers, and there's no better place to learn than from fellow educators.  Don't miss the detailed "Looking For Something?" categories at the bottom of the blog that allow you to search their extensive archives by topic.  

A few summers ago I joined some of my blogging friends in a summer book club group to read and discuss Linda Reif's book, Read Write Teach.  Involvement in this group kept me reading this significant book throughout the summer.  This leads me to another important opportunity that begins soon, It's a cyber book club for teachers. You can read more about it at Cathy Mere's blog, Reflect and Refine.  This summer we're reading DIY Literacy by Katie Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts.  
It's a slim book, just over 100 pages.  You still have time to purchase the book and get started before the first discussion begins in July.   

I'll wind up this discussion of teachers who blog with an invitation to visit the sites of two of my favorite teacher bloggers, Tara Smith who blogs at A Teaching Life and Ruth Ayres who blogs at Ruth Ayres Writes.   

And now, Caitlin, it's on to the final category of things I want to share, websites and/or links that I enjoy and hope you'll visit.  (If you think I'm sending you too much, be glad you weren't in the recent graduate class where I shared a dozen favorite blogs and a dozen interesting links.)  You may already know about these from your coursework that is preparing you to teach and write in our digital world.  But just in case, you don't know them, here are my top four interesting educational links/sites that I hope you'll explore.  

  • School Library Journal Newsletters  - You can customize your newsletter subscriptions according to your interests.  And they are completely free!
  • EdutopiaCreated by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, this is acomprehensive website and online community that increases knowledge, sharing, and adoption of what works in K-12 education."
  • Teaching Channel - "Teaching Channel is a thriving online community where teachers can watch, share, and learn diverse techniques to help every student grow."  I loved watching videos of real teachers showing me how to implement a specific strategy in my classroom.  
  • The Educator Collaborative - "Think tank and professional development organization working to innovate the ways educators learn together."  You can view free, archived sessions of the Spring 2016 #EdCollabGathering.  Be sure to take advantage of this free PD resource which includes many sessions targeted for middle and high school teachers.  And I must sneak in one more blog that I learned about from one of the spring gathering sessions - Moving Writers.  A recent post, A Writing Teacher's Guide to Summer, is sure to inspire your summer journey.  
Caitlin, I hope this gives you some entry points for your summer preparation.  It was a pleasure to meet you, and I wish you a wonderful intern year.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Celebrate This Week: Books, A Baby, and A Toddler

 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.  Books
A neighbor from down the lane dropped by with a gift for me this week.  It was a book to celebrate my impending grandmother status!  We often laugh because the place we see each other most frequently is the library.  With our library closed for renovations, we need to find a new meeting place.  My friend Coleen was in town to meet her new granddaughter, Natalie.  And of course, our talk turned to books.  Off we went to Island Books so I could share Polar Bear's Underwear with her.  I knew it was perfect for her grandchildren.  And she gifted me with my own copy of this title. I know you may have already read my slice of life about our final meeting of the school year for our after school book club, Books, Brownies, and Beyond.  Just in case you missed it, here's the link to our padlet and here's the picture of our club at Island Books, each clutching a title we plan to read this summer.

2.  A Baby
I'm a grandmother-in-waiting, waiting for my first grandchild.  Yesterday was the due date!  So I'm positive that by next Saturday I'll have some pics to post.  This past week I attended a Grandparent Night at Island Books with Nancy Stewart, island resident and promoter of all things musical.  It was delightful as we went around the room and introduced ourselves by mentioning the number of grandchildren we have.  As I mentioned that I was waiting for my grandson's arrival, someone behind me interjected:  "Is that Blake's child?"  It was the mom of one of his high school friends.  I love our little community!  And this gathering is where I was introduced to
Polar Bear's Underwear.

3.  A Toddler
I was on my way for a play date with Imi when my neighbor popped by with her gift.  So I took the book with me and let Imi open it.  Then we read A Baby Blessing by Welleran Poltarnees together.
Can you tell that she approves?  

I can't wait to share Polar Bear's Underwear with her and her sisters.  (Fingers crossed that they don't already have the title.)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Stacks and Files and Piles of Poems!

Head over to Carol's Corner
for today's round-up of poetic goodness!
Thanks, Carol, for hosting this week. 

How do you organize your poems?  I've resorted to saving electronic copies, but nothing is as satisfying as paging through stacks of xeroxed poems I've kept over the years.  I've actually made dividers for the kid poetry that I'm keeping.  I've been able to relegate duplicate poems to the "poems to share file" for next year's book club.  Here are the dividers in my notebook:

  • Seasonal Poems - Fall, Winter, Summer, Spring (My year is still organized around the school calendar!)
  • School Poems
  • Classic Poems
  • Individual Poets (multiple poems by favorite poets)
  • Single Poems (a strange catch-all group)
  • Blogging Poets (or should that be blogger poets or poets who blog?  Remember all those times I've asked permission to share one of your poems?  Those poems are in this section.)
  • Sidewalk Poetry  - short poems for this activity, begun by Betsy
  • Poems About Poems
  • Poem in Your Pocket Poems (I've actually misplaced a favorite from this group, but just found it on the web.  It's "Pocket Poem" by John Grandits from the book, Blue Lipstick.  I love the reference to poetry as "...a little snack for your soul.")
  • Poems About Reading
  • Poems About Writing

My notebook is so full that it can scarcely hold another page.  While sorting through my files and piles of poetry pages, I found the poem "Fire" by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater in an old Book Links magazine (April 2012).  I'm hesitant to get rid of these magazines, even though my daughter assures me that it's all online.  But how can you find something online that you didn't know was there?  This previously unpublished poem was spotlighted in Book Links with a note from Sylvia M. Vardell inviting folks to check out Amy's blog, The Poem Farm. This poem did not end up in the recycling bin and now has a place of honor on the front of my poetry notebook.
I think I want to memorize it.  It's so appropriate for our Poetry Friday gatherings! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Slice of Life: Field Trip for Books, Brownies, and Beyond

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

Today was our final Books, Brownies, and Beyond meeting of the 2015-16 school year. We squeezed in a ton of fun this afternoon.  We visited one of our elementary schools to invite rising 6th graders to join us for our two summer meetings at the public library and to consider adding our book club to their after school activities in the fall.  We shared a padlet with them that we created which included reflections and activities we participated in this year and important links.  We stopped at Island Books and listened as bookseller Lillian shared her recommendations for summer reading.  We popped into Baskin-Robbins (a short walk from the bookstore) for an ice cream treat before our return to school and the afternoon activity bus.  And most of all, we're looking forward to summer break, no homework, and more time to read!  

You can access the padlet we created to share our reflections and activities of our book club year.

Here we are at Island Books.  Each of us grabbed a book we want to read over the summer for this picture.  
Here's our club mascot, Brutus, who joined us in the bookstore, but was so tuckered out on the way home that it was necessary for him to catch a quick nap.  
A big thank you to Lisa and Gretchen, two of our book club moms, who provided transportation for our field trip to celebrate our last day together . . . until our first summer meeting in July. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

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. 

It's June and weddings are on my mind.  I'm headed to my niece Kara's wedding soon.  
 So I'm borrowing a wedding saying to frame my celebrations for this week.  

Something old!
I have MANY unfinished writing notebooks.  I grabbed this one during my latest stint as a sub to record what was going on in the front office, but then I switched to a yellow legal pad.   This notebook was started in October of 2007 and I'm still writing in it nine years later.  It's a lovely conglomeration of  my life:  responses to professional books and tween fiction, notes from conferences attended, entries from trips, prompts for student reading response journals, poems, ideas for slices and favorite blog posts from some of you that I've copied and glued in.  And the 2016 entries?  Notes from Janet Wong's and Tod Marshall's presentations.  I'm going to carry this notebook around until I finish it this summer.  And then it will be time to grab another unfinished notebook.  

Something new!
I created my first padlet to celebrate the visit of Tod Marshall (WA state poet laureate) with some of our middle schoolers.  I celebrate that retirement allows me to fiddle around with some things that I never had the time to figure out when I was teaching full-time. 

 Something borrowed!
Summer thoughts jotted in my "old" notebook from Amy's Poetry Friday post:  
"1.  Take a summer writing class if you can...Let another's writing advice push you. 
2.  Appreciate something small and daily.  Let this small daily thing move you to write. 
3.  Sit.  Make time for sitting and paying attention this summer."
Check out Amy's post for more details and for a lovely hummingbird poem.  

Something blue!
Hydrangeas in Sara's and Will's front yard

Friday, June 10, 2016

Poetry Friday: Tod Marshall Visits IMS!

Head over to Beyond Literacy Link
for today's round-up of poetic goodness!
Thanks, Carol, for hosting this week.

For a quick peek inside Tod's visit to Islander Middle School, check out the padlet I created.   For the longer version of his time with one group of sixth graders, read my post.  

I stride down the hallway to Room 104, eager to grab a few moments in my former classroom with Tod Marshall, a visiting poet and our WA state poet laureate.  When I reach the door, it's way too quiet!  I open the door to see two classrooms squeezed into one classroom and sixty plus students writing in their notebooks.  I go back to the office to grab my notebook before returning to soak up poetry molecules with Ms. Gaffney's and Ms. Moore's students.  

I'm amazed to see "The Song of Wandering Aengus" by William Butler Yeats projected on the screen. It's not a poem I would have chosen to share in a sixth grade classroom.  Tod explains how poetry creates a ripple effect.  We think about an image and the world seems a bit different.  I listen in as students share their thinking about the image "..fire in your head..."  The discussion switches to connotative and denotative meanings of words.  

And then Tod shares a quote by William Wordsworth:  "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling..."  The discussion returns to the projected poem and a search for clues that indicate the poem was not literal, images that introduce a magical element into the poem.  And then a discussion of the call to the writing of poetry, the magic of metaphor, the magic of making music that is poetry.  

That idea leads us to song lyrics and a discussion of why they stay with us.  Poetry and music were incredibly combined until the invention of the printing press.  And then the words on the page had to make their own music in order to remain memorable.  

Sprinkled throughout Tod's presentation are recitations of memorized poems.  He shares Willam Carlos Williams, "The Red Wheelbarrow" and mentions that it is a poem to live with.  He introduces the term assonance as he discusses the delicious sounds in the phrase, "glazed with rain."

And then it's time for a quick introduction to Japanese haiku and the beauty that can be discovered in its imagery and brevity of words.  We learn about The Poetry Foundation and the image of Pegasus, a symbol for artistic inspiration.  Tod utilizes the resources of The Poetry Foundation page and explains a bit about the history of the Poetry magazine.  

The final poem I hear recited by Tod is "Harlem" by Langston Huges.  He provides context for the poem by explaining the time period and setting for the poem.  Are you surprised that all of this happened in less than 30 minutes while I took a quick break from my sub position in the front office of our school?   I still wish that I had asked for a sub (for the sub) so that I could have spent the entire morning trailing our visiting poet.  

Several weeks ago, Laurie Raisys, owner of Island Books, handed me a flyer about Tod Marshall's visit to Mercer Island sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Council and Island Books.  As soon as I saw that he would be visiting schools in the morning before the community events, I immediately wondered if it would be possible to invite him into some of the middle school classrooms.  We are grateful to our Schools Foundation for providing the honorarium so that six sixth grade classrooms and one eighth grade classroom could be enthralled and inspired by our state poet laureate, Tod Marshall, on June 2.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Slice of Life: Good Samaritan Revealed

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

I looked both ways before pulling out of our lane, intent on a couple of quick errands after school.  That's when I noticed a young man and his bicycle stopped by the side of the road.   He peered at his  knee as the bright red blood oozed from a scrape and dripped down his leg.  I pulled over, got out of my car, and offered my help.  He recognized me. (When you substitute teach in a  small community, the students often know you.)  I could tell he was struggling to stay composed and not lose it.

I kept my distance, but explained that I lived nearby and could get him whatever he needed.  Bandaids?  Some water? A cell phone to call home?  He replied that a nice man had already stopped and had gone for needed supplies.  I decided to wait with him.  Who knew about this "nice man"?   And as a concerned member of the neighborhood, I wanted to see who had cared enough to help.

Imagine my surprise when a few moments later, the "nice man" appeared across the road with wet paper towels, dry paper towels, and bandaids in hand.  I breathed a sigh of relief as I recognized the mystery man.  I could continue on my afternoon errands.  I could vouch for this nice man.  His identity?  My husband!  Just as I had left to run to the grocery store and the bookstore, my husband had headed out for a walk and discovered our young friend in need.  So glad that I live with this nice man!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Celebrate This Week: Summer's Arrival and A Birthday!

 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.  Summer is here!  
Even though my teaching friends are still in the trenches for three more weeks, I decided that as a retired person, I could declare when my summer would begin.  And as of Friday afternoon at 4:15, I'm officially out of school (except for Books, Brownies, and Beyond,
and a couple of short two hour commitments).  

2.  Old friends and blogging friends!
Two of my retired friends were in the building this past week helping with testing.  I loved seeing pics of a grand baby, catching up with both of them, and sharing laughter.  I received lots of birthday greetings from old friends on FB yesterday.
(You have to love those automatic birthday reminders.)
I enjoyed remembering how I had met each friend and
savoring memories of precious times together.
And I celebrate wonderful friends I've made through blogging each week on
Slice of Life, Poetry Friday, and Celebrate This Week!   

3.  A Birthday!    
My birthday celebration started early when I arrived home Friday
after a four day work week to beautiful peonies from my husband.  
My first birthday greeting was a text message from a blogger friend at 5:30 am. 
(Yes, I was already up!  I rarely sleep in.  But I take great naps!) 
My daughter picked me up Saturday with no instructions other than,
"Be ready at 9:30."  She took me to explore a new independent bookstore.
Of course, I got a new book,  and we enjoyed a delicious brunch.
Seems a bit ironic to be BUYING a book with the title,
Live More, Want Less:  52 Ways to Find Order in Your Life.
But I do love organizational books, and haven't indulged in awhile.
Adding it now to my summer reading list!
The day was rounded out by the arrival of phone calls from family and friends, 
FB greetings from friends both far and near, and celebrating with dinner out
with Lance and Sara & Will.  Great day for me - no cooking yesterday!