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Archive for September, 2015

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

This year I am trying out a new weekly assignment, Wonder Wednesdays. My students are required to choose their own wonder from Wonderopolis, read the information, and write a paragraph or two about their topic. I thought this would give them practice in nonfiction reading along with practice in writing informational paragraphs. I also wanted the element of choice involved. The students have been getting so excited about what they are learning that they can’t help but want to share. So I told them they could do a Wonder Presentation once each grading period.

Emily was the first to present this week. She became interested in electric eels. This proves how important choice is. I would never have thought she would be interested in eels, of all things, but her family went to the Aquarium this summer, and she saw a live one. When she discovered from Wonderopolis that electric eels are not actually eels, she wanted to “trick” the class. Not only that, she created a quiz and kept up with points making the whole presentation totally engaging.

electric eels

https://app.emaze.com/@AIRTFIRQ/are-electric-eelsPowered by emaze

Andrew, 3rd grade, researched optical illusions. I had no idea there were different types. I encouraged him to try Emaze as a format for presenting his topic. Andrew is a gamer who is no stranger to technology. He created this presentation with ease. I love that this is a format that even my youngest students can use. Click on the image to see his presentation.

optical illusion

I am pleased that Wonder research has materialized into a student-led classroom. I value learning that is student-driven, when I can stand on the sidelines coaching, troubleshooting, and cheering them on.

Link up your digital literacy posts.

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Photo Credit: Linda Jordan on Flickr

Photo Credit: Linda Jordan on Flickr

Is there ever a time when you read too much? I teach at two schools. I insist on silent reading, so I have a book going at each school. At one school, I am reading Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana. Along with Armani and her family, I am suffering through Hurricane Katrina with a family trapped in their attic watching the water rise. Cynthia Rylant’s The Islander is our second read aloud this year. This book takes us to an island in Northwest Canada. There’s a hurricane and the boy searches for injured animals to rescue. This is a beautiful read aloud book because the chapters are short and keep the students wanting to know more. There is a bit of magic and strong symbolism. (You can get it for a penny on Amazon.)

At my other school, I am reading the new chapters for Wonder, Auggie and Me. Currently I am reading Shingaling, the Charlotte chapter, and getting angry about the mean girls of middle school.

Sunny Side Up came in the mail yesterday, and I finished it in one sitting. Can you imagine that such a difficult issue like drug abuse is dealt with in a graphic novel? Lots of talk around this book in the kidlitosphere. Read this wonderful post by Caroline Starr Rose on Nerdy Book Club.

Everything, everything

By my bed is Everything, Everything, a heartbreaking young adult love story about a girl who cannot leave her home due to illness, the modern “girl in a bubble.”

And with the commemoration of 9/11, I have been reading post after post about the bravery, the tragedy, the sadness. This post from Bernadette broke my heart again with the bravery of one woman who did what she had to do to save lives.

Reading can take you to many different places. I celebrate reading, but I think I may take a break. I don’t think my heart can take anymore.

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Poetry Friday round-up with Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday round-up with Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

You be the book, I’ll be the binding
You be the words, I’ll be the rhyming
~That’s What’s Up, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

Last week on Poetry Friday, Tabatha posted a music video and a paired writing prompt. I thought her idea might work well with my students. We have a class blog on Kidblog.org. Each week I post what I’m calling a “Snippet of the Sea” for students to respond to. Two weeks ago the quote was from Nelson Mandella. They watched a video from the History Channel and answered hard questions about privilege and education and the word weapon. While this was a worthwhile exercise, this week I borrowed Tabatha’s idea and lightened things up a bit.

Here’s the video from Lennon and Maisy and my students’ responses. While they did not have to think very deeply, they did have to rhyme and think about how things go together. But mostly, it was just plain poetic fun.

You be the front, I’ll be the back
You be the ball, and I’ll be the bat. (Lani)

You be the pencil I’ll be the lead.
You be the blanket I’ll be the bed.
You be the butter I’ll be the bread
You be the blue I’ll be the red. (Tobie)

You be the biscuit, I’ll be the jam
You be bread, I’ll be the ham
You be the green eggs and ham, I’ll be Sam I Am.
You be the beans, I’ll be the spam
You be Mary, I’ll be the little lamb (Kielan)

You be the socks, I’ll be the shoes
You be the trumpet, I’ll be the blues (Emily)

You be the sky, I’ll be the horn fly.
You be the sun, I’ll be the fun.(Andrew)

You be the sun, I’ll be the shine.
You be the tree, I’ll be the pine. (Kaiden)

You be the dog, I’ll be the cat.
I’ll be the hair you be the hat. (Jacob)

You be the needle, I’ll be the thread.
You be the say, I’ll be the said. (Vannisa)

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Freedom

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

peace freedom quote

I attended a poetry workshop in which the leader asked us to write using concrete images about an abstract idea. Ah, sometimes that is quite a challenge. Today, Holly asks us to reflect on Freedom for our Spiritual Thursday posts. Freedom is an abstract term that comes with all kinds of connotations.

What is the image of freedom?
The soaring eagle,
A couple in a convertible with the top down, wind in their hair,
praying hands,
a breaking wave on the shore of the sea,
a child on a swing, leaning back, legs high in the air,
or is freedom more complicated than that?

We look to our flag to symbolize our country’s freedom.
We look to words “All men are created equal.”
We look to God.
But our questions remain unanswered,
hanging there in the air of inequality,
oppression, discontent.
What is freedom, really?
What is the ultimate price?
When will we see the image of true peace?

Freedom is the laughter of a child,
the scent of jasmine on a summer walk,
a hug between friends.
Freedom is elusive and right in the palm of our hands.
We can embrace the word, hold fast to our convictions,
and fly the flag. But until the whole of humanity
lives in peace, freedom will not be free.

photo 2

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

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

Things-often-get-tougher-before-they-get-easier_-Stay-strong-be-positive_-We-all-struggle-sometimes_-Your-struggle-is-part-of-your-story

Why do we do this to ourselves? Put yourself out there and get knocked down? What for?

I am asking myself over and over why I do this writing thing? Sometimes the struggle gets too hard, and I want to quit.

I recently entered a contest. I took the plunge and sent my latest middle-grade novel out into the world. I felt good about it. I felt ready. Now, I feel regret and shame. Stupid.

My writing partner called me yesterday while she was driving home from the beach. She chose to spend time on her vacation to comfort me. “You are a great writer. Don’t let this stop you.”

Then she sent me an email she had gotten in response to her submission. Practically word for the word the same email I had received. How can someone honestly write the exact same feedback on two totally different pieces?

Instead of feeling relieved, I felt more confused. What is the point?

Everyday I guide my students to be better and better readers and writers. I would never consider giving each of them the exact same response. And yet, I ask them to “stay in the struggle.” I need to ask myself to do the same.

I’ll stay in it. For now. With the help of a strong writing community. With the help of friends like Melanie. She writes about this same thing here. Her reflection is different, of course, because we are different writers. We don’t deserve the same response. And neither do our students.

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Canva Characters

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

 

A few weeks ago I wrote about using the app Canva.com to respond to reading.  I made a Canva to write about some of the female characters in Lost in the Sun.  This week I asked students to give it a try.  I offered Canva as a technology option for their reader response.  My response rubric requires the students to respond in three different ways, per  Aimee Buckner’s Notebook Know How.  I also require a TAG-TT (Title, author, genre, theme, and tone.)

I watched my students go through some of the same frustrations I had with the app, manipulating text boxes.  And on some computers, the app froze, and we’d have to restart.  Canva does save the draft automatically, so not all was lost.

I called the assignment Canva Characters. The students had to choose three characters and write about their interactions with the main character.  Not all results are in, but I think these two show that the assignment was a success.  Using technology can motivate students to move beyond their usual interpretation of text and create something new.

Lani's canva

 

 

 

The Lightning Thief copy

Link up your digital literacy posts here.

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Reach copy
My one little word for 2015 is Reach. I was determined to reach with my writing. Take it to the next level. Well, this week came rejection. I hear from other authors that this is expected, normal, and we must power through, but it sent me into a slump. Because of Ruth’s invitation to celebrate each Saturday, I am climbing back up the tree and reaching out again.

I celebrate dancing! Friday night I’m tired, but I said yes to his invitation to go Cajun dancing. We only danced three songs, but we left smiling.

I celebrate rainbows. This week I’ve seen rainbows on two consecutive mornings on the way to school. One morning I pulled over and took pictures, the rainbow in the west, the glowing sun in the east.

Morning rainbow

Morning rainbow

Sunrise

Sunrise

I celebrate authors I admire. I received a signed copy of Over in the Wetlands, a beautiful book by Caroline Starr Rose about the place I live. She captured the magic of the wetlands, along with the fearful hurricane and the peace and rebirth that follows. She sent bookmarks and stickers for my students. I celebrate making connections with authors.

Over in the Wetlands by Caroline Starr Rose

Over in the Wetlands by Caroline Starr Rose

In the midst of a rough week of state pretesting, I celebrate Chalkabration. We went outside in the South Louisiana heat and chalked up the sidewalks with poetry inspired by Laura Purdie Salas’s book Catch Your Breath: Writing Poignant Poetry.

Chalking poetry

Chalking poetry

 

This invitation to Celebrate each week helps me to see that there is much to rejoice.  Rejection is small.  Reaching is big.  What are you celebrating today?

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