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Archive for March, 2016

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

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

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

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

 

 

Today the Spiritual Thursday group is writing about Doraine’s word, Shine.  Dori is a poet and blogs at Dori Reads.  In the spirit of Dori’s poetry, I wrote two haiku inspired by images of light.

 

Sunrise field created in Painteresque

Sunrise field created in Painteresque

The sun
never fails to shine
like my heart that opens to
shine for you.

Lake Martin sunset by Sandra Sarr.

Lake Martin sunset by Sandra Sarr.

Shine
The echo of light
calling amidst the darkness
See me.

–Margaret Simon

 

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

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

This list poem idea was stolen borrowed from Elisabeth Ellington who credits Ruth Ayres with the original idea.

Bikes at Solomon House

Bikes at Solomon House

dark sky
alarm clock
froth milk– French roast
feed cats
waxing moon
treat for Charlie
read
write

Sun rise
pink clouds
Solomon House
Easter turkeys
smiles
good mornings
cold hands, warm hearts

drive
sun hides
Mr. Al, old oak, waves hello
students’ stories
I tripped on a rock,
fell in my driveway,
now my face hurts 
when I do this.
Kaiden smiles.
writing
read aloud
clean up
shut down
parent meeting
all is well
drive
Subway sandwich
drive

student writers
400 words
cheers, “Wonderful Words” badge
read aloud
clean up
car line duty
goodbyes

drive
drop off documents
afternoon coffee
apple snack
art class

home again
rest time
read
write
feed cats
throw ball for Charlie

daughter cooks
glass of wine
share the news
bathe
read
crochet
sleep

Mr. Al, an old oak near the highway

Mr. Al, an old oak near the highway

 

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

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

 

The day has come that I don’t know what to write about.  It happens to all of us who are committed to this SOL challenge.  In my classroom, students are writing posts about why they hate the SOL challenge.  Among the top reasons is not knowing what to write about.  Vannisa wrote, “When I’m thinking about what to write, I’m always thinking about if I should really write about it or if it’s sol-worthy.”

I totally understand this dilemma.  Not only am I committed to writing a blog post every day, I have that little bird on my shoulder tweeting about the worthiness unworthiness of my writing.  Why can’t he just leave me alone?  I assure my students that we all go through this.  I actually love watching them struggle through because they can be very creative while doing it.

Did I just write that?  If my students become creative when they struggle through the dreaded writer’s blog, then shouldn’t I, too?

I could be writing about my sweet blogging-slice-of-life-best friend Julianne and how she traveled all the way from L.A. to see me and visit my class, and how my kids already knew her name from our class connections.  Oh, and how we talked and laughed and the time was sooo short.

Me and Julianne

Me on the left with Charlie and Julianne enjoying the bayou breeze.

You can meet a little slice of Julianne on her blog here.  She’s traveling to help her daughter select a college for next year.  This is a difficult time.  We all want what is best for our kids, but they themselves ultimately need to make the decision.  Julianne wisely knows from having two older children that no decision is forever.  Still, I hope I provided a safe haven for them on their travels.

When I first connected with the Two Writing Teachers and their March SOL Challenge, I had no idea that it would lead me to such good and lasting friendships.  Julianne is a prize.  I don’t care about any of the other prizes from the challenge.  I have already won.

 

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

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

 

Spring sunrise by Margaret Simon

Spring sunrise by Margaret Simon

First morning of spring, my husband said, “You’re missing a show outside.”  He was right.  I grabbed my camera and went out on the deck in my PJs.  The air was cool, but the sun was coming up sending a beam of light down the bayou.  There was a slight fog flying over the bayou.  My mind wandered to poetry.

When the fog floats above the water
like it is today, I believe
I could walk on water,
strap on my angel wings
and move toward the light.

Could heaven be as beautiful as this?

–Margaret Simon

My friend Susan brought me a seedling of a Red Buckeye tree.  Her note said, “I sprouted this seedling from a buckeye in our yard, so it should do well in yours also.  I would recommend leaving it in its pot until next January keeping it watered and in partial shade. Hope that it thrives for you. Happy Spring!”

I have high hopes for this little tree.  The problem is I usually kill plants.  But this one came to me in the spirit of spring, new life.  It must live, right?  It has angel wings.

red buckeye seedling

My red buckeye seedling

red buckeye mature

Blooming red buckeye

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

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

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

My husband says to me, “Look at this!” He is not on any social media, but he reads USA Today on his tablet every day. He is a learner who always wants to know more. Yesterday he showed me this amazing video about a tiny poodle in a nursing home. Get your tissues out.

 

 

 

 

 

I want my students to know that learning is a part of life. Last week I brought in a snap circuit kit and just let them play with it to try to figure it out. My administrator was observing me, and I am hopeful that she understands the lack of instruction on my part. Discovery was the point, and the answer doesn’t always come immediately.

Discovery is an important aspect to any learning. Because we have so much available at our fingertips, discovery is easy and constant. “Look at this, Mrs. Simon” are words I hear often. Jacob wanted to know how many moons Jupiter has. That’s not something I keep tucked away in my brain. “Check NASA’s site,” I tell him.

Each week my students are engaged in discovery about whatever interests them. During the Slice of Life Challenge, their Wednesday Wonder has become a Wonder SOL. I ask them to write a paragraph about how they became interested in their topic and to conclude with ideas for further learning. Their research is now framed by a personal connection.

I wonder about a lot of things. Do tree trunks grow fungus to make their colors?

Were the leaves flowers at first but it just lost its petals?

Chlorophyll is a large molecule. It absorbs light from the Sun and because it is a green color it makes the plants green.

I was very surprised that Chlorophyll was a word and that it even existed. I didn’t know it made plants green. I wonder why plants are green and not different colors like,pink,black,brown,red,green,orange, or tan. I think that there is another planet out somewhere that has a atmosphere and has different colored plants.
–Jacob, 2nd grade

In what ways is discovery a part of Digital Literacy in your classroom? Join the discussion by leaving a link.

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

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

 

Each student has a chance to ask a question.

Each student has a chance to ask a question.

Laura Shovan and Janet Sumner Johnson are on tour as “Sweet Sixteens,” debut children’s authors of 2016.  I love any opportunity to connect my students with authors, so when I heard they had some openings, I jumped at the chance.

To prepare my students for this visit, I have been reading aloud an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary.    We are getting to know Hannah, Sloane, Sydney, Kate, George, and other students in the fifth grade at Emerson.  The school board plans to sell the school for demolition and a new grocery store.  Under the guidance of Ms. Hill, who must be a wonderfully kind teacher, the students protest and use poetry to get their voices heard. Laura Shovan creates a compelling story with her intricate knowledge of each character carefully depicted in the craft of poetry.

With Laura was Janet Sumner Johnson, author of the The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society.  We had time to read only one chapter of this book before our visit, but Janet packs so much into that first chapter that my kids were full of questions.  Janet said that she wrote the first version of the book 15 years ago.  It’s been through lots of revisions.  My students enjoyed learning about how Janet got her idea for the PB&J Society.

Janet and Laura on the Promethean Board

Janet and Laura on the Promethean Board

As an aspiring author myself, I took a special interest in what these wonderful women had to say about their writing and publishing experiences.  Laura showed us her huge binder full of tabs in which she kept every draft of every poem for every character.  I was amazed!

Both authors connected with the kids and were respectful of each and every question, even the silly ones like “Do you know about narwhals?”  Kaiden loved being the first to notice that the homeless girl in Laura’s book had the last name Holmes.  I believe that there are many more clever details in these two books.  They come out in April.  Get ready to add them to your classroom library.

 

Sharing the love of reading and narwhals on St. Patrick's Day.

Sharing the love of reading and narwhals on St. Patrick’s Day.

 

 

Discover. Play. Build.

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

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

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

Poetry Friday round-up with Robyn Hood Black.

Poetry Friday round-up with Robyn Hood Black.

Writing is like praying, because you stop all other activities, descend into silence, and listen patiently to the depths of your soul, waiting for true words to come. When they do, you thank God because you know the words are a gift, and you write them down as honestly and cleanly as you can.

– Helen Prejean C.S.J.

Broken Pottery by Sweet Tea

Broken Pottery by Sweet Tea

Broken
shards of unwanted
clay, rock, soil
litter the ground.

There, unharmed, her hidden heart–
once protected by
earth mother, soft and dark,
now bravely

open like the flowers
in an abandoned field,
reaching for light.

–Margaret Simon

When you open yourself to the world, it will reveal itself to you.  I opened two different emails.  The first from Laura Shovan.  She sent me the Sister Helen Prejean quote.  A gift of a gift.
The second was Tabatha Yeatts’ blog post here.  This image of the broken pottery grabbed me, and I opened the note on my computer and composed this poem.  I know it comes from my heart that aches for a child whose home is not as it should be.  Yet she is exactly who she should be, open and kind and full of joy.  This broken pot.  Her full heart.  My attention.

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