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Slice of Student Mentors

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Not every student is made to be a mentor.  A common thought about gifted kids is to encourage them to mentor other students.  As a teacher of gifted, I’ve seen students who work well with other students and I’ve seen those who don’t.  I feel it is important to know a student well before pushing him/her to help other students.

I haven’t taught Chloe long, but I knew she would make a great mentor. She is confident without being condescending.  She’s enthusiastic about whatever we are doing in class and spreads that enthusiasm.  So when I asked her if she wanted to teach her regular class about color poems, she literally jumped up and down.

At NCTE I grabbed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Polly Diamond and the Magic Book by Alice Kuipers and Diana Toledano. I also picked up a teacher’s guide which led me to the color poem pattern from Read, Write, Think.  (Polly writes a color poem that her teacher loves.) Chloe wanted to write a color poem like Polly.

First she chose her favorite color, pink, and made a list of pink things.  We talked about figurative language and how she could use it in her poem.  Chloe wrote this poem:

Pink is cotton candy.

Pink is a horn of a unicorn.

Pink is my blanket.

Pink is a flower.

Pink tastes like bubble gum.

Pink smells like a rose.

Pink sounds like a violin.

Pink feels like a pillow.

Pink looks like my mom’s lips.

Pink makes me beautiful.

Pink is magnificent!

When Chloe shared her poem with her classmates, they were ready to write their own.  Having a form helped.  Her friends selected their own favorite colors and used the form to guide their writing in their writing notebooks.  As she walked from group to group, Chloe checked in to see what they needed help with.  She was patient and helpful.  Her classmates were focused and serious about their writing.  Chloe was a proud teacher.

Writing is hard work!

 

by second grader Kelsie.

 

 

 

Celebrate Snow!

 

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

On my daily weather report app, a snowflake appeared, then disappeared, then appeared again.  On Thursday afternoon, our superintendent cancelled school for Friday.  I was skeptical.  Snow?  Really?

The last real snow I remember was a freak one in early March of 1988.  I was pregnant with my second child, and I remember my coat would not fit around my bulging belly.  My oldest was 3.  Neighbors made a snow bunny.  Since then, we’ve had ice rarely, and snow flurries every 7 years or so.

I woke up a little later knowing I could.  When I opened the door to let my dog out, I was shocked.  Snow!  Real live snow!  Falling and sticking!

snowy camellia

 

Neighbor James makes a snow angel.

The snow fell for hours.  Reports say we got 1-2 inches.  To us here in South Louisiana, that’s a blizzard!

What a gift to open our Kidblog and see that Lynzee had written a poem about the snow!

So cold
No sign of letting up
Only white
White as can be
Falling down
Lonely snow
A white Christmas
Knowing that
Even then
Snowflakes will stay.

And we
Rush to
Eat breakfast

And play in the snow
Music floating in our minds
And snowballs
Zip by
Ice castles
Nothing can stop the joy of a
Glorious snow day

–Lynzee, 3rd grade

Our local news station, KATC, made this video about the 2017 snow event.  Such delight!

Click over to Steps & Staircases for more Poetry Friday.

 

Inspired by Project 1,2,3 originated by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and continued by her daughter, Lisa challenged us to make a metaphorical poem from an object/image.  Many of us took the challenge.  To see more poems, click over to Lisa’s blog to read more posts.

I brought this idea to my students and combined it with a lesson from Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s book Poems are Teachers, “Make Metaphors” on page 136. We looked at model poems and talked about how an object can become a metaphor.  In one class, I passed around a paintbrush and said, “A paintbrush is…”  In another, I blew bubbles and said, “Bubbles are like…”  Each of these inspired beautiful responses from my kiddos.

  • A paintbrush is your imagination.
  • A paintbrush paints your path.
  • Bubbles are sparkling rainbows.
  • Bubbles are in orbit flying around Saturn.

As I wrote with my students, I grabbed a pink marker and made three swirls on my paper.  Back at home with a little time to craft (snow day!), I cut and pasted pink swirls in an art journal.  Thanks, Lisa, for the fun prompt.

 

Swirl of pink
sparkle-sky
diamond bright
stars of night

Swirl of pink
puffy parting clouds
play peek-a-boo
with the sun

Swirl of pink
licky-lick
sticky-lip
lollipop

–Margaret Simon, 2017

 

Chloe’s Bubble poem

Trace’s pink paintbrush poem

Austin’s wooden flute poem

Lynzee’s angel poem

After we wrote and shared our poems, Andrew had an idea.  “Why don’t we take a line from each of our poems and make a new poem?”  Sounds like a great idea.  Here’s the resulting poem.

To dream it, all you have to do is start.

Don’t erase yourself from the real world.
Paint your true colors.

There is no fright.
Not to lose but to gain.

Flying high above
a swirl of pink puffy parting cloud,

The sea is my world.
The sand is my happiness.

–Caneview GT Allstars

 

 

 

Find more posts at Live your Poem.

January, 2017 seems so long ago and yet a minute ago.  For our Spiritual Thursday gathering this month, we are reflecting on the words we chose as our one little word, a guiding word, a resolution word.  I wrote Cherish on a chalkboard hanging in my laundry room with the intention of reminding myself daily of my self-promise to cherish each moment.

Life happens.

Stuff gets in the way.

I’m late for work.

I hit my funny bone.

I  spill coffee all over my car.

But still, when *&#% happens, I can breathe, take a moment to regain my composure, and find a way to cherish the next moment.  The moment when someone lets me pull out in front of them, when a child offers a hug, when my husband buys me flowers just because.

We are not promised a pathway of roses.  We will certainly have dark moments, scary moments, angry moments.  Cherish helped me turn these moments to joy, to find the light, to pay attention to the important stuff.

I’m not ready to erase the chalkboard yet.  I want to find a way to cherish this season of Advent.  When cars are piled in traffic jams and there is never enough time to get it all done, I want to stop and look at the curled letters of Cherish and remember that each moment is a gift.

 

 

Slice of Losing a Life

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

I put off going to visit.

I took my time finishing a prayer blanket. Then busy days kept me away. Until Sunday.  I knew I needed to go before it was too late.

I knocked tentatively on the door.  No answer.  Another knock. No answer.  I hung the bag with the blanket inside on the door handle and tip-toed back to my car.  I texted her daughter, “I left a package at the door.”

She responded, “No one answered the door?  I’m not home.  They must be on the back patio.”

I turned my car around.  Ok, here I go.  I walked around to the back and met her husband and her sister.  “I have the monitor, so I can hear her,” her husband said. “It’s time for her medicine. It’s a good time to visit.  She will be more alert.”

“You may be shocked to see her,” he added.  I remembered seeing my husband’s father near death.  I felt prepared.

I wasn’t prepared.

She lay in the bed. Her face pale, almost stone-like, but still soft and warm.  I lay next to her, placed the blanket over her, and cried.

When I spoke her name, she opened her eyes.  Did she see my tears?  She tried to reach out to hug me, but her arms had no direction.  I held her hand and rambled:

“You are beautiful.

You are a queen.

I love you.

God is with you.”

She mumbled.  I didn’t understand her words.

I think she said, “I’m sick.”

I think she said, “I love you.”

I think she smiled.

When her husband came in with her medicine, I saw true love.  He climbed onto the bed, raised her up, and said, “Breathe, breathe. I love you. Breathe.”

As I left, I hugged him.  A man I just met.  He was doing the best he could.  He’s holding on to a small thread and knows that it will soon break.  He will lose her.  She will die.  My eyes met his.

“I’m sorry,” I said.  “I’m so sorry.”

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Ruth Ayres invites bloggers to celebrate every Saturday.  I don’t always post, but today I wanted to celebrate our field trip this week.  My students are practicing for a play they will perform next week for first graders at the Shadows, a local plantation home.  Wednesday was the day we signed up for rehearsal, so my students were able to try on the costumes and see where each scene would be in the house.  They were excited and nervous.

After the rehearsal, we walked to an iconic cafeteria on Main Street, Victor’s, where Dave Robichaux eats. I had to give them a speech before we went in about how their eyes would be bigger than their stomachs.  The first thing on the shelves are delicious looking desserts.  My experience has taught me that young children left on their own to choose their food rarely pass up desserts.  Victor’s offers home-cooked meals like rice and gravy, smothered pork chops, fired chicken, and the Wednesday special was a stuffed catfish.  Yum!

But the highlight of the trip was the movie Wonder.  I’ve read the book a few times.  Some of my students have read it at least once.  Some had not read it but now want to.  I asked them to write a blog post about the field trip and gather here some of their quotes about the movie.

I was crying through out the whole movie. This movie made me realize that I am very fortunate and that I should never ever bully. Bullying can be horrible. Auggie had many problems but he knew he would get bullied and he knew that there will be issues caused because of him. This is one of the only movies that touched me emotionally. I really recommend this to you, but you all saw it so just watch it again. Faith, 6th grade

 Auggie’s mom decided that Auggie would begin Beecher Preparatory School in the fifth grade, so he would not be the only new kid. And the day before he started, he met Julian, Jack, and Charlotte. The whole time Charlotte was talking about Broadway, and Julian goes out of his way to be rude. When they get to the science room, Julian says, “This is the science room. It’s supposably hard.” And Auggie says, “It’s not supposably. It’s supposedly. Maybe my mom needs to homeschool you, too.”, which made us all laugh. And at the end, Auggie got the Henry Ward Beecher medal. If I could give Wonder a grade, it would be an A+. Lynzee, 3rd grade

That was such a “wonder“ful movie. That was probably the saddest and most heart-warming movie I ever saw in my life. It almost made me cry and that is a hard thing to do but I didn’t. (Surprisingly).  Andrew, 5th grade

 

Click over to Mary Lee’s site for more poetry.

 

Fran McVeigh gave me a magnet at NCTE: “Explore new possibilities.”  I’m considering the word explore for my 2018 One Little Word, but for today, it inspired the title for a poem requested by Carol Varsalona for her #AutumnAblaze gallery.  She saw my photograph on Facebook from a recent canoe voyage on the Bayou Teche (pronounced “tesh”).  I loved the photo, too, and was resistant to writing about it.  I want you to know this is still in draft, so you can leave soft critique in the comments.

Duperier Bridge on Bayou Teche, New Iberia, LA. photo by Margaret Simon

Explore New Possibilities

On the water,
the canoe turns
toward a horizon
I do not know.

I paddle-pull
under a bridge,
listen to the rumble-
a passing car

like thunder from rolling clouds.
Under a bridge
where teenagers
huddle close and smoke,

where wooden gates
direct water
as if one could
contain such a wild thing,

a golden sunset
draws me toward
a new destination.

–Margaret Simon

Mary Lee Hahn invites us to join #haikuforhealing. Inspired by the same photo, a haiku:

where road meets water
a bridge, a golden sunset
a new horizon.

–Margaret Simon