Archive for February, 2011




Pelican don’t die
We want you to stay alive
We will protect you

By Matthew, first grade

When I started this blog, my intention was to write life reflections but not necessarily about my teaching, but today I am making an exception.  If you have spent any time with me lately, you have likely heard a Matthew story or two.

Matthew is new to my gifted classroom.  I started servicing him in January.  He is the first first grade student I have ever had.  He displays many characteristics of young giftedness; He has a focused interest in one subject, sharks, and he speaks with the vocabulary of a 17 year old rather than a 7 year old.  The first day Matthew and I worked together I wanted him to write in his new journal (decorated by him in shark pictures).  I asked him to draw a picture and make a caption about a story we had just read.  He said,”Since you are teaching me about writing captions, then I should write about sharks because I know a lot about sharks.”

Precocious, to say the least, but Matthew is also a joy!  He bounds into the room daily ready for the next learning adventure.  Recently, we were preparing entries for the Language Arts Festival writing contest.  In the 1st-3rd category of poetry, haiku was an option.  Matthew said, “But I don’t even know what a haiku is.  How can I write one?”  So, of course, this writing teacher, taught him how to write one.  I explained the 5-7-5 syllabic pattern and asked Matthew to look out of the classroom window to observe nature.  Our school is positioned in the midst of a sugarcane field and with this being winter, no cane is growing.  The bare land stretched out toward the horizon.  And Matthew wrote beautifully about the clover blowing in the breeze and saying goodbye to winter.  I’m not sure yet if it’s a contest winner, but to Matthew, he became the instant “king of haiku.” 

In class with Matthew are Kaylie, a 4th grader, and Alexis, a 6th grader.  They also enjoy Matthew.  When he was reading a 6th grade leveled nonfiction book about big cats, he would read aloud loudly.  This never disturbed the girls. When he came to a word he didn’t know, he spelled it out and one of us would tell him what it was.  We are a classroom of learners.

The girls have been participating on Voices on the Gulf, a website set up originally in response to the Gulf oil spill yet has evolved into a space for students to interact about place-based inquiry.  My students have been active on the site all year, but Matthew hadn’t posted anything yet, and he was itching to, so when he wrote another haiku during writing time about a pelican, I said, “This would make a great post on Voices on the Gulf.”  Matthew quickly went to the art cabinet and set about painting an illustration.  The result was this adorable pelican with outstretched wings and the poem above. 

The day after I posted Matthew’s pelican poem, he had a response.  The students get very excited about these responses.  Matthew’s responder dubbed him “Pele-man.”  Matthew replied to his anonymous responder, “Thanks I’m touched very touched. this is how i write haiku, i am relly confIdent and look out my classroom window and write down the things I see. Then choos words for my haiku. well that is all I have to say. your friend, pele-man”     You can view the entire post with comments at http://www.voicesonthegulf.org/discussion/pelican

Last week, I told Matthew that he brought joy to our classroom.  He said, “Thank you. I wonder if Alexis thinks so.”  I asked Alexis, and she turned to Matthew with a big grin, “Oh, yes, Matthew, more than words can say.”

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Love Story

A Love Story

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This day is not the biggest celebration in our family.  When the girls were younger, Jeff was in charge of getting them a card and some chocolate.  Now he practices a must-be-present-to-win policy, so only Maggie and I got chocolate this year, Godiva no less.

I count myself blessed, though, in the Valentine’s Day department.  I married my best friend 28.5 years ago.  Who would’ve thought at not quite 21 years old I knew anything about love, much less how to create a lasting relationship?  But I will never forget my mother’s advice (she and my dad celebrated 50 years this past summer.)  She said that the couple that grows together, stays together.  She drew two lines with her hands like the two lanes of a 4-lane highway.  “The two of you travel side by side.”  I believe that is the secret and the gift of my relationship with Jeff.

Last week when Jeff and I were out to dinner, we passed a table where a couple sat on the same side of the booth feeding each other French fries.  Jeff noticed that they had ordered the same entrée.  He said, “We don’t order the same thing.  I like to go kayaking and you like writing.” My Valentine’s card today read “A pinch of you, a dash of me,” underneath a photo of a salt and pepper shaker.  Together we balance each other, compliment each other.  We are different, and that’s OK.  As long as we support each other’s choices, talents, and passions, we will continue to grow together on this life-love road. 


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