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Archive for July, 2017

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Saturday morning yoga, my instructor, Susan, says “You should not tell yourself that your body can’t do something. Challenge yourself to try, and your body may just surprise you.” So when she said we were going to do head stands, I stopped the “No way,” and said, “Ok. I’ll try.” I opened myself to her knowledgeable instruction. She guided me step by step. And when I was upside down, I felt powerful, giddy, invincible.

I want to take this learning into my classroom and into my teacher-self. Our school year begins on Wednesday. Scheduling is a nightmare for anyone who has to look at a master schedule and plan for all the various pull-outs and special classes. I am one of those teachers that messes up the master schedule. This year I will be servicing three schools. Three different schools with three different schedules pulling out gifted students in 5 different grade levels. I know you must be saying by now, impossible.

Teachers, isn’t that how we roll? Turning impossible into possible. Whatever it may be, a move to a new classroom, grade level, or position, a new administrator to get to know, a crazy schedule to make work, we put on our super hero capes and take off, letting the winds of self-doubt fly past us. Flexibility is in our stride.

 

If I can do a hand stand, I can go confidently into this school year. But just in case I need a guiding mantra, I made a Canva poster out of Cornelius’s charge and my friend, Dani Burtsfield’s photo from Glacier Park in Montana.

 

 

Be sure to join me in the new #TeachWrite chat on Monday, August 7th at 7:30 EST.  For more information and a list of questions, go to #TeachWrite Chat.

 

Link up your DigiLitSunday posts below:

 

 

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Empty classrooms
echo sights and sounds
of children.

Each knickknack evokes
a memory of a child.

I move desks to their places,
reconnect computer cables,
staple border on bulletin boards,
roll out the rug,
dust shelves,
arrange books,
and wonder who
the first bell will bring.

Tall pencils in a jar,
blank notebooks in the cubbies,
sticker charts wait.

Empty classrooms
invite, inspire, invoke
a spirit of expectedness,
elasticity to expand
for new voices, new hearts,
new children to embrace.

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Billy Collins writes that “the trouble with poetry is that it encourages the writing of more poetry.”

To me that is the joy of poetry. Last week Heidi Mordhorst posted the summer poem swap poem that I wrote for her. She wrote a response poem.  See this post here.

I have connected to so many wonderful educators online, many of whom do work I greatly admire. One of these educators is JoAnne Duncan.  JoAnne is an assistant principal we would all want to have. She finds kind and gentle ways to deal with the everyday problems she faces. I love to listen to her tell stories about finding a child’s heart through reading and art.  She thinks outside the box.  So I should not have been surprised when she shared with me that she wrote a poem.  The surprise came when she said her poem was inspired by my poem to Heidi.  The poem used the same framework while JoAnne went back to the time she moved away from her Kansas City childhood home to Montana.

Art by Derek DeYoung. Click the image to read more about the artist.

She moved through Montana
as in a dream
floating over jagged rocks,
shooting down wild rapids
like new adventure in her life.
Montana spoke to her in the silence of the forest,
the scent of pines and sage
so foreign yet familiar.

She marveled at majestic peaks,
mighty rivers,
and expanse of land and sky.

Montana entered her
like skis on powder snow,
drift boat on water
and rainbow trout rising to the hatch.
She moved through Montana as in a dream.

–JoAnne Duncan

What joy to connect through poetry, to inspire JoAnne to visit her experience and share it. That’s what this Poetry Friday space is all about.

Today, JoAnne shares our connection on her blog.  She went on to research the art she found to illustrate her poem.  Yet another inspirational connection.

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

Have you ever carried a snail
in the palm of your hand
to study the way it moves
along a slime line?
And named it?

Have you nurtured a succulent plant
from a cutting
gently placed in soft soil
pushed by a wish?

Have you met an artist named Anna
who loves snails and succulents
who tells stories with her pencils
who holds conversations with nature?

Anna cradles snails and gives them names
like Oliver, Scott, and Alice.
Her fine young hands
touch plants
and paint
magically making them grow stories.

A sea turtle sustains a fall forest on its back.
A snail looks toward towering tree houses.
Professor Fox leads you on an exploration.

With Anna, all things are possible
and life is all good news.
Through her imagination,
she invites you
to pretend play a bit.

Thoreau is Anna’s favorite writer.

Anna Amelia Contrell
@jarofpencils on Instagram
rumpledcrow.etsy.com

I met Anna at an art show this weekend. I bought a watercolor drawing from her.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Not really, but I didn’t get the DigiLitSunday post up this morning.  I have my excuses.  Don’t we all?  But the basic reason was self-doubt.  I battle this as much as anyone. Even some of my favorite authors go through this, so why would I expect anything different of myself?

I’ve been trying to keep up with #cyberPd.  This group is reading and responding to Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading by Vicki Vinton.  This week’s posts are around chapters 7 and 8.  I just now finished chapter 7, so I didn’t do all of my homework.  I was reminded by a friend that this is a self-made assignment and if I don’t want to do it, nobody will care.  That is true, but then I had to re-assess why I am reading and writing in the first place.

I want to be a better reader, a better writer, and a better teacher of both reading and writing.  I believe that I should practice what I preach.  So, for better or worse, here I am.  If you did write a digilit post, link up below.  It’s not too late.

Chapter 7, Creating Opportunities for Readers to Interpret, begins with this epigraph:

We search for patterns, you see, only to find where the patterns break.  And it’s there, in that fissure that we pitch our tents and wait.  –Nicole Krauss

Readers do not build interpretations on what is obvious in a text.  We sit in the fissure of broken patterns, wondering, questioning, testing out our theories, and peeling away the layers the author has set up for us.

I feel I have done a disservice to my gifted students in not helping them understand that we don’t always understand.  Julieanne Harmatz wrote in her reflections about Chs. 7 & 8 that we must embrace confusion as part of learning.  Vicki Vinton shows me how to honor my students’ thinking and hold onto it in order to promote engagement, a sense of agency, and ownership.  They need to understand that not knowing is part of the thinking process. And what’s wrong with going back to the text to re-read?

Have you ever had an Aha moment while reading, and turned back to say, “Oh, that’s what that was about!”?   Of course you have.  Because that is how authors grab us and make us want to read more.  By focusing on the process rather than the product (test, essay, whatever), we can mold our students into problem-solving thinkers.

Reading is a transactional act.  The text comes alive in our minds when we interact using our own interpretations and our own hearts.  Then a story becomes real and meaningful.  We can encourage this flexibility of thought within our classrooms.  Vicki Vinton helps show us how.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

 

Bunk Johnson mural at Da Berry Fresh Market

 

I look forward to Thursdays.  Carl gives me a call to remind me to pick up my vegetables at Da Berry Fresh Market.  I signed up for this CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in June, but it’s taken awhile for me to remember the pick-up day.

Each week Carl packs up fruits, vegetables, herbs, and a little surprise jar of something.  This week the surprise was a jar of pickled green tomatoes.  Last week there were 2 jars, honey and balsamic fig and blueberry jam.  This weekly supply inspires fresher and more inventive meals.  Last night I sautéed eggplant in shallots to go into delicious Yum Yum bowls for my family. (The girls are home for the weekend.) The meal was a big hit.

Daniel and Carl of Da Berry Fresh Market

Envision da Berry is the brainchild of Phanat Xanamane.  He came back home to ‘da Berry (New Iberia) to make a difference. The da Berry Market is just one way he has brightened up this area.  Phanat and Envision da Berry believe “combining art and technology in public space has the power to open Iberia Parish up to a new world of economic and cultural possibility.”  The glow on both Carl’s and Daniel’s faces not only reflect the heat, but also the joy and pride they take in their work.

And yes, I feel better about myself as a consumer buying fresh food from local farmers.  This is a positive for all, the community, the farmers, and me. To find out more, visit Da Berry Fresh Market at 520 Hopkins Street, New Iberia or follow their Facebook page. 

 

 

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Poetry Friday posts are with Katie today at The Logonauts.

 

My Southern comrade, Keri Collins Lewis, sent me a gem of a poem this week.  She knows where I live and how much I enjoy dancing with my husband.  She captured this in a wonderful poem celebrating me.   Keri, I cherish your words.  Thank you, darlin’. (Say it with a Mississippi drawl.)

 

Last week I led a teachers writing institute.  I invited our PF friend, Catherine Flynn, to present via Skype about visual literacy.  She left us with a Marc Chagall painting to ponder.  Since Keri wrote about “my love” and we are nearing our 35th wedding anniversary, I am inclined to share my response with you.

The Promenade

In a geometric village,
sculpted lawns, a steepled church,
houses on the hillside,
a man holds his bride’s hand.
His touch sends her floating
on the wind like a pink kite
dancing with the clouds.

Your touch does this to me
even now, far from this village.
Over the landscape of life,
your soft gentle love
is enough to send
me flying, reaching
for the joy-sky.

–Margaret Simon

 

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