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Archive for January, 2016

Spirit Tree

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

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

Holly invites us to write about each other’s one little word. This week we are writing about my word, Present. Click on the icon above to go to other blogs to see what they are saying about Presence.

On Sunday, one of the readings was from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. He writes about spiritual gifts. Thinking of the word presents as a synonym for gifts, I decided to re-write the verse into a more modern version.

A rewriting of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 12:1-11

Now concerning spiritual gifts, there are many.
The Spirit is generous when you agree to it.
Manifested for peace and goodness,
our hearts must play along.

You may have the gift of speaking
with confidence and knowledge.
Like our friend, Martin, with his dream,
you should speak up.

You may be the one we can all count on,
you show up and bring food. You give us hugs
and tell us how pretty we look today.

You may be the one who comforts, you know
about essential oils and whole foods. Your touch
on our chakras can produce heat and healing.

You may understand fully the phases of the moon.
You know the best time to plant trees. You feed the birds.
You have an herb garden.
And free range chickens. One is named Harvey.

You may be a collector of words,
Uplifting our days on Facebook
with a quote of the day.
Always clever, ever kind.

Whatever your gift of the Spirit is,
use it. Flaunt it. Show it off.
You never know who’s watching,
learning, growing, needing
the very thing you have to give.

Don’t question the Spirit. It knows
what it knows and chooses whom it chooses.
Embrace His Presence. Let it shine.
Let it shine.
Let it shine!

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Being present is easy when the light shines on resurrection fern making shadows  to fascinate me.  --Margaret G Simon, OLW

Being present is easy
when the light shines
on resurrection fern
making shadows to
fascinate me.
–Margaret G Simon, OLW

For this new year of blogging about digital literacy, I decided to use prompts to get us thinking and reflecting. If you have any topic ideas, please share them with me. This week we are discussing digital versus nondigital.

In my classroom we have stopped having conversations about digital vs. nondigital writing. Writing is writing, whether you are typing on a blog site or writing in a notebook. We utilize each as a tool for writing. The choice is theirs. Some choose to brainstorm in a notebook. Some will go straight to the blog and open a draft. Some will type in a word document first, then copy and paste to the blog. Some print out each draft. The choices are as varied as there are students in the room.

The computer should be a tool that is available as a choice. In my classroom, we make use of every space: the desk for writing, the corner for reading, the computer tables for blogging.

This week my students wrote Harris Burdick stories. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick was originally a collection of black and white illustrations by Chris Van Allsburg including a title and a caption. The story was left to your imagination. In 2011, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick was published. This book includes short stories written by well-known middle-grade authors, such as Jon Scieszka, Kate DiCamillo, and Walter Dean Myers.

I shared The Chronicles of Harris Burdick with my students. We read a few of the stories aloud. Then they each picked an illustration to write about. I was amazed how well this worked for even my youngest writers. Madison wrote the most words she’s ever written in her life. (She’s a second grader.) Jacob incorporated a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. Kielan would not be distracted. She sat at the computer for three days typing furiously.

MrLindenslibrary

One night a girl named Ruby, who was 10 years old, went to the library to get a book because she loved books. The librarian named Mr. Klein warned her not to get the ancient book because it killed a boy named Jack. She didn’t hear him because she was playing music on her headphones. She took her book home and read it. As she was reading it, the vine pulled her right into the book. As she was dreaming about candy canes and gumdrops, it all changed into a story. The only way she could get out of the book was beating the fairy tale in the book. The first fairy tale was Jack and the bean stalk. (Jacob, 2nd grade)

Madison and Emily wrote their first drafts in their notebooks. Tobie just opened up a draft post on the blog and dove right in. Kielan typed directly into a word document. I observed my students go through the writing process in their own way. Some of them needed talk time. When Lynzee was stuck, she chatted with Emily about where her story could go.

Eventually, though, every story will be typed into our Kidblog site. Because this is how we share our writing. We have Kidblog connections out in the world. I’ve encouraged my students to “hack” into other blogs and write comments. They are getting a glimpse into the marvel of “meeting” people online. These connections have not caught on like I had hoped, so I have put a new blog connection on the board each week and required my students to connect to at least 3 other students. They give me a sticky note with the three names on them (accountability).

Would an old-fashioned pen pal letter be more meaningful? I’m not sure. When I was teaching back in the 90’s, we did pen pal letters. The students would wait weeks and weeks for their letters. Then they would write the minimal in a response. I never quite got them gung-ho about this project either.

Today, the world is digital. Nondigital is not going away. I still have about 5 journals floating around. I have stacks of books to read. I even managed to hand-make and handwrite thank you notes for Christmas gifts. Whether digital or not, literacies are about reading, writing, connecting, expressing, and being present.

Please add your blog link. Thanks for stopping by.

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Join the Poetry Friday round-up with Keri at Keri Recommends

Join the Poetry Friday round-up with Keri at Keri Recommends

Last week Michelle Barnes interviewed Douglas Florian who challenged poets to write a poem about nothing.  On Saturday, I had a bunch of nothing much going on and I read a poem by Barbara Crooker that was about nothing and the joy of a day when nothing goes wrong.  I stole a line and off I went.

with a borrowed line from Barbara Crooker, “Ordinary Life” in The Woman in this Poem selected by Georgia Heard.

This was a day when nothing happened.

I swept the floor.
Leaves piled with swirly
dust–not many left on trees

this winter day, but the sun
shone through a break in the clouds
making my gathering glisten.

I stopped to switch laundry
pulled long sleeves from the dryer.
Soft warmth brushed my cheek.

View from my kitchen window, by Margaret Simon

View from my kitchen window, by Margaret Simon

The dryer hummed a rhythm.
Time enough for another cup of coffee,
another deep breath of nothing happening.

I promised God to be present.
He said, “It’s all in the way you look at things.”
So I swept

words into a small pile
on a page
where nothing much was happening.

–Margaret Simon

 

 

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

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

 

DSC00205

Paper Whites, Margaret Simon

For the next few weeks, blogger-friends and I will be posting about the spiritual aspects of our chosen words for 2016.  This week we are writing about Carol Varsalona’s word, Believe.

I took this picture of paper whites blooming in my front yard this week.  When I see flowers blooming, I believe deeper in the true magic of life.  I didn’t plant these flowers, and yet, every year they pop up and show their little white star-like faces. They shine.  Wake me up. Make me Believe.

I encouraged my students to create an acrostic with their words.  An acrostic is when you use the letters of the word as the beginning letter for each line of the poem.  Sounds easy enough, so I decided to write one with the word Believe.   In my notebook I wrote about 3 half-possibilities.  Each one kept sounding sappy.

But Believe is not a sappy word.

Believe is a strong word,
a word that holds on for dear life,
never letting you completely fall,
Believe buoys you up,
especially when troubles want to push you down.

Believe is a word you can count on,
holding its own weight.
Trusting in you to show up
when the sun is rising,
be ready for this new day.

Believe is a certain word,
proud yet humble,
a handkerchief that your grandmother stitched
calmly drying your tears,
then showing you the stars.
Believe believes in you.

–Margaret Simon

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

I’m reading a new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I’m not sure where I read about this book.  I know Leigh Anne is reading it, and so is Catherine.  So here’s the thing: If there’s a group of us reading this book who want to chat, we could start a virtual book club.  We could chat in Voxer or Google Docs.  If you want to join in, email me at margaretsmn at gmail.

Four years ago I jumped into publishing and put out a middle-grade novel, Blessen.  At the time, I found an old diary that told me I’ve wanted to be an author all my life.   Notice my expectation as a teenager that maybe confidence came from someone else.

"I would love to be a writer if only someone would give me confidence!"

“I would love to be a writer if only someone would give me confidence!”

If growing up has taught me anything, it’s that confidence comes from courage that comes from your. own. self.  No one else can give it to you.

Elizabeth Gilbert says she lives in fear everyday.

Creativity is a path for the brave, yes, but it is not a path for the fearless, and it’s important to understand the distinction.

Fear will always show up when you are trying to be creative.  You can tell it to go away.  But it’s always there.  I love that this great author is telling me this.

I’ve grown to cherish this blogging space because I feel safe here.  Whoever you are, reading and leaving me kind comments, you are my angels.  You help me feel like my words are worthwhile and mean something.

Since my OLW is present, I am showing up.  I’ll listen for the muse, the magician, whatever his name is and answer with a yeah, ok, let’s do this crazy creative thing together.

Being present this past weekend, my husband and I visited Lake Martin for the sunset on the way to our dinner/ dancing date.  It was not the best of all sunsets.  I got my boots muddy.  But we showed up.  With a little magic from the lens and Picmonkey, I created an inspiring image.  On Sunday, I wrote a tanka for the image.  And I am sharing it here.  Kicking fear to the curb!  See ya!

 

Photo and poem by Margaret Simon

Photo and poem by Margaret Simon

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

In an attempt to get more participation in DigiLit Sunday, I tweeted out a topic this week, One Little Word. My students worked on their OLW projects the first few days of our return from break. I think this helped them focus and get excited about a new year.

As usual, I offered choices for their project. But for their blog posts, I had three requirements: an image, commentary, and poem. Many chose to write acrostic poems. Most of them chose to use Canva after I showed them how it worked.

Canva is a platform where you can create posters. We did not print the posters, but I uploaded them into their blog posts. Using thesaurus.com, they found synonyms for their words and in some cases, changed their word to one found in the search.

I have been thinking a lot about digital literacies, in particular visual literacies. How does the image convey meaning? I was careful to ask my students, “When you think of your word, what is the image you see?” For Jacob, his word Believe meant blue ocean water. For Madison, her word Effort was communicated by a rocket. Vannisa found a word that connected her interest in sleep (her passion project topic) and her zodiac sign (Pisces) by choosing Dream. She worked with the shape tools of Canva to create a cloud behind her word.

Kielan supported her choice of a star image (her word is Sparkle) with this piece of writing: “There are over a billion stars in the sky. Out of all those stars, there is one particular star that stands out from the rest. All those stars are one color, but this star is all colors. Blue, Red, Green, Purple, you name it. I want to be just like that star. I want to be bold, stand out, sparkle, and be like no other.”

Believe by Jacob

Believe by Jacob

Dream by Vannisa

Dream by Vannisa

Effort by Madison

Effort by Madison

Link up your DigiLit Sunday posts. Topic for next week: Balance (of digital and nondigital)

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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 by Margaret Gibson Simon enhanced on Picmonkey

photo by Margaret Gibson Simon enhanced on Picmonkey

With the selection of my OLW, Presence, I thought about my classroom(s) and how I could be more present there. At the beginning of the school year, I wanted to make reading aloud an every day occurrence. It is a challenge with my teaching situation because I have students in different grades rotating in and out. With my morning group, I realized that most days we were all there at 10:30 AM, and they leave between 10:50 and 11:00, so Read Aloud became constant on the schedule.

This week we finished Fish in a Treeby Lynda Mullaly Hunt, the middle-grade Global Read Aloud choice. Being so closely involved with a book, so intimate, my voice cracked through the whole last chapter. I think I cried not only because Ally had triumphed, but also because I was looking out at the wide eyes of my students and feeling their love for Ally, too. When we finished, before I knew it, Emily had written a quote and taped it to the wall, “Nothing is Impossible. The very word says, I’m Possible!”

I have had more trouble getting a time to read aloud with my afternoon group, so this week I made it a priority. All work stopped at 2:40 and we read until 3:00. I started Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate. I loved it when Noah said, “Mrs. Simon, can we watch Crenshaw?” Isn’t that what read aloud is all about? Watching a book together.

Today, I celebrate special moments with my students to be truly present.

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