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Archive for May, 2017

Poetry Friday is with Keisha at Whispers from the Ridge

Photo by Kim Douillard

I follow Kim Douillard’s blog. She posts a weekly photo challenge. Last week’s challenge was “Path.” To me, her post was poetic, so I took words and lines and created a found poem.

Path
a found poem from Thinking through my Lens

The snail’s wet trail caught my eye.
I remember Emerson’s words–
go where there is no path
and leave a trail.

I find the sculpture;
Its path formed of trash
her artistic eye transformed
into beauty.

My own path
ebbs and flows like the tides.
I follow moments of sunshine
to clouds echoing the waves.

Seabirds above
follow an invisible path.
In the sky, agile pelicans
intersect the line of a hang glider

Causing me to wonder
what magical paths
await if we are willing
to look.
–Margaret Simon

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

I have never been an activist. For the most part, I am an introvert. Introverts do not usually travel outside of their comfort zone. And, for me, activism, speaking out for or against a cause, has not been within my comfort zone.

Last week a friend invited me to come to her house to write letters to our senators and representatives about the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline. Rose Anne is a soft-spoken, humble woman. Activism was all new to her as it was to me, but we had a common concern for our precious wetland environment.

In the sunroom of her bayou side home, a few friends gathered. Opal brought banana bread. I learned about the texting number Resist Bot. I was amazed at how quickly and efficiently I could send a letter to my U.S. senators and representatives. I also wrote an email to my state representatives.

Our main topic of concern was the absence of an Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Study. Already our Louisiana bayous and waterways have been subject to culling and drilling and endless human invasion. Little consideration has been given to the environment.

The Bayou Bridge Pipeline is a proposed extension of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This section would connect Lake Charles, LA to refineries in St. James Parish through the Atchafalaya Basin. This swamp land is already riddled with abandoned wells. Not only is this area home to many species of birds and wildlife, it also lies above an aquifer that provides water to many people.

Who knows what my little act of opposition will affect, but I felt empowered by the experience. This is a cause that is close to my heart. The proposed action endangers the beauty as well as the safety of my home.

Rose Anne sent us a message on Facebook that Representative Richmond has sent a letter to ask for an Environmental Impact Study. That’s a step in the right direction. I received an emailed reply from the legislative assistant to my state representative that he agrees with me. Another step. Step by step, letter by letter, I can voice my opinion and know that someone is listening.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

The end of the school year came too quickly this year. The Two Writing teachers blog series, however, helped prepare me for the inevitable- summer writing slide. Kidblog.org published this blog post of mine around summer writing.

The gifted program in my district has always recognized the need for summer reading.  We carefully choose a list of books and send home a required reading packet.  Last year we tweaked the requirements and the kids actually responded that they enjoyed doing the work.  The packet was designed around choice and activities that were interesting and motivating.

What about summer writing slide?  My students actively write every day of their time with me.  Will they keep writing over the summer?  Not likely.  So I took it upon myself to encourage summer writing.

I found a stack of summer postcards in my endless supplies of teacher stuff.  On each card, I placed a label with our kidblog site address, my home address, and my email address, three different ways my students could keep in touch over the summer.

Friday was our last official day together as these last two weeks are full of end of the year activities.  I brought out marbleized journals.  We start the school year decorating a journal for the year, so why not close the year with decorating a summer writing journal?

Have you started thinking about summer slide?  What are your plans?  Share your blog posts in the link below.

 

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

 

Since I first read Donalyn Miller’s book The Book Whisperer, I have implemented the 40 book challenge.  I teach 1st-6th grade gifted kids.  These kids are usually readers when they walk into my classroom.  My bulletin board houses sticker charts all year long.  Students add a sticker for every book they read.  Every nine weeks grading period I remind them to update their charts, but other than this, I leave them alone.

I do not believe in gimmicks to get kids to read.  What I do believe in is finding space to read every day and knowing a student well enough to place a just-right book into their hands.  My students have not all met the challenge, but this year a majority of them did.  This week we colored bubble numbers celebrating their achievements.

This Animoto video is a showy one. I didn’t get a posed picture will all of my kids, but here are a few proud readers. Enjoy!

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Poetry Friday is with Tara at A Teaching Life.

 

Gifted by Nature Day was coming up, and I had forgotten that it was my job to do a poetry activity.  Yikes!  What would I do?  Some middle school students would be doing a play based on The Jungle Book.  Their teacher explained in an email to me that the theme would be Be Yourself. 

I typed into Google search “Bio-poems.”  I didn’t want to use the same ole bio-poem form.  Up pops one of my favorite performance poets, Allan Wolf.  On his website, he had this mentor I Am poem.

I created a document that outlined each line.  As each student completed their art activity, they came over to my poetry table.  My first question was “Do you know what alliteration is?”  Most of the kids didn’t recall this term, but that’s OK.  I taught them very quickly, and they said, “Oh, yeah!”

Writing that first line proved the most difficult.  The students I was working with are gifted, and there’s nothing better than watching a gifted kid feel a challenge. Encouragement came from other kids who had found a first line.

Wyatt was happy to share his first line. “I am an All Star Athlete.”

Noah, who loves to hunt, created, “I am a hard-headed hunter.”

A young Laotian girl named Patra sat next to me and said with complete honesty, “I am a little, lovely lark.”  I encouraged her to use that metaphor throughout her poem. Her teacher texted me a copy to feature here.

I am a little, lovely lark.
I wonder what it’s like to fly.
I hear people talking.
I see the puffy, fluffy clouds.
I want to fly.

I am a little, lovely lark.
I pretend to fly.
I touch feathers.
I worry when I’m late.
I cry when–I don’t cry much.

I am a little, lovely lark.
I understand Laotian language.
I say, “Ha! Ha! Ha!” (me laughing)
I dream about flying.
I try to do my best in school.
I hope to grow wings!

I am a little, lovely lark.

Patra, 3rd grade

Jacob missed Gifted by Nature Day, so I presented the activity to him back at school.  He decided to take his poem in a different direction and become a planet, specifically Mercury.  You can read his poem here. 

This form worked for multiple elementary grade levels from 2nd graders to 6th graders.  If you chose to use this activity in your classroom, I’d love to hear from you.

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

Kim Douillard is a fine photographer. I follow her blog, Thinking Through my Lens. Each week she posts a photo challenge. This week’s challenge is perfect for me, Nature’s Art. Kim lives on the West Coast in California. She takes pictures of the beach. By contrast, I live in South Louisiana. While our state is located on the Gulf Coast, there are no beaches, just marshland and canals.

Last week I posted pictures from a swamp tour on Lake Martin in St. Martin parish. I think my husband was a little jealous of our trip, so when Saturday was an absolute perfect day with temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s, he packed up the canoe, and we headed back to Lake Martin. This time I took my nice camera with the telephoto lens.

Wood duck couple

One of my students has quite an advanced vocabulary for a 2nd grader. She was explaining to me about how she was getting a rabbit for a pet.

“Mrs. Simon,” Lynzee explained, “I am going to be busy in the mornings because rabbits are crepuscular.”

“What does crepuscular mean?” I asked her after praising her for her high level vocabulary.

She explained that she had learned the word from Wikipedia when she and her mom were researching about her new bunny. It means active at dawn and twilight.

I told this story to my husband, so when the alligators kept popping their menacing heads out of the water, he began calling them crepuscular muscular submarines. I admit it’s more frightening to see them in a canoe than in a big metal flatboat. My nerves were quite jumpy throughout our adventure.

Alligator hiding in duckweed.

Aside from the muscular gators, there were plenty of crepuscular birds. Wetlands birds are majestic in their size and graceful flight.

Great white egret, Lake Martin

Sunset at the lake created interesting color changes. I’m not much of a pro at taking photographs, but sometimes I just got lucky. The light, the art of nature, and my camera clicked at the just right time.

Grey heron, largest of the heron family

From vocabulary.com “The adjective crepuscular describes anything that’s related to twilight, like the crepuscular glow of the dimming light on a lake as darkness falls.”

 

crepuscular glow of the sunset

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

On Monday evening, I participated in #Wonderchat on Twitter.  The topic was led by Dr. Mary Howard: Instilling a Sense of Professional Wonder. If you are here reading this post, you are likely a person who wonders, reads, researches, and is always learning.

We are nearing the end of the school year and yet, I am still filled with professional wonderings. Three new books have arrived in the last few weeks, Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading by Vicki Vinton, Disrupting Thinking by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, and Joy Write by Ralph Fletcher.

If anyone is interested in a summer book study of one of the books above, let me know in the comments. Wouldn’t it be more fun to read if you have someone to discuss it with? Google docs work well for housing a book study.

Why do I keep buying professional books? You’d think I would know what I was doing after 30 years of teaching. But I am still learning. I want to continue to question what I do and why I do it. I think that is the definition of a professional. When I stop wondering about teaching, I should stop teaching.

During the #Wonderchat, Sarah Eaton posted a padlet for teacher wonders. I remade the padlet wall to house our posts today. (A test run for using padlet for the round up.) Double click inside the padlet to add to it. In addition to voicing our professional wonders here, perhaps we can also post ideas and links to further research. Be sure to put your name and a link to your post, so we can continue the conversation.

 

Made with Padlet

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