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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

 

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As we drove home from an evening of dancing to Stop the Clock Cowboy Jazz and eating at Pop’s Poboys, we watched the fullest moon we’ve ever seen move without movement in and out of clouds, clouds like spider webs.

The moon doesn’t know a storm is coming, or maybe it just doesn’t care, playing peek-a-boo
with a big smile on its face.

Don’t listen to the news.  They will stand in the windiest spot, let rain hammer down, and pretend the world is ending.

Look at the sky and decide for yourself.

 

 

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Spiritual Journey Thursday is dedicated this month to the small steps that create a big change.

On Wednesday night, Charlie (my 10 year old schnoodle) and I went to a simple service for blessing the animals.  Our priest, Father Matt, wore a Creation-themed stole and set up a Eucharistic table under the pavilion in the backyard of the church.  He was surrounded by animals of all kinds, dogs of all sizes and colors, cats in carriers, a hedgehog, and a basket of turtles (Each and Other).  He sprinkled the pets with holy water.  The dogs barked in a choral round.

As silly as I thought this was going to be, I have to admit I was moved.  I was moved by the way we are so proud of our pets, of how much animal love makes us happy.  Such a small thing, the lick of a dog, the purr of a cat, the tiny curious heads of turtles, turned to something bigger, something better.

In the well-known prayer, St. Francis echoes “Make me an instrument of peace.”  In keeping things sacred, declaring that all are worthy of God’s love, and finding joy, we become instruments of peace.

Peace can be difficult to hope for when innocent fathers are shot in the line of duty, when thousands leave a country music festival terrorized and forever scarred, when our country’s leaders seem determined to divide, oppress, and insult our small steps toward peace.

After Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s poem Always, I wrote the following poem.

There is always
a sweet scent of satsumas
ripening in the fall.

They ignore the drone of bees,
the flash of lightning,
the rush of wind,
the flood of water.

Nature knows what comes next.

Nature never worries about tomorrow.

She trusts the hand of the planter.

She recalls the love of rain.

She hopes for the dawn
and shows us how.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.

 

 

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

 

Over the summer I connected with JoAnne Duncan through Voxer.  JoAnne is an assistant principal in Washington. Connecting with other educators across the globe is exciting to me.  Little did I know how much this new friendship would grow and sprout new growth.

On Friday afternoon after a difficult day, I checked Facebook to find a video message for me (and others) from JoAnne.  She was challenging us to join a kindness project, #welearnkindness.  This project stems from the book Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  JoAnne’s school is reading the book and raising awareness of bullying in new and innovative ways.  One way is asking others to join the kindness challenge by taking 3 action steps in 24 hours.

The idea is to tag others on Facebook or Twitter to take on the challenge themselves.  This is how phenomenons are started.  Remember the ice bucket challenge?

On Monday, I did my three acts of kindness, but the planning started on Sunday. My husband added Swiss Rolls to his Walmart list so that I could treat one of my students for his birthday.  I grabbed a bouquet of flowers on my grocery run, and I located a gift I had bought during the summer to give to a colleague.

When I arrived at my first school, I caught the assistant principal in the hallway and asked if I could take her breakfast duty.  She was grateful and rushed to do whatever it is assistant principals have to do.  (I’m sure her list was long.) While in the cafeteria, I talked with our French teacher whom I know little about and learned he is from Niger, Africa.  We had a great conversation.

At school number 2, I handed my colleague her belated birthday gift.  I had tagged her in the kindness challenge, and she brought me cookies.  She also challenged other teachers in our school.  I saw one carrying around candy treats to give to kids caught being kind.  This kindness thing is spreading quickly.

At school number 3 where I am new this year, I brought fall flowers to a teacher across the hall who is helping me navigate this new-to-me place.  She was more than thrilled.  I think I made her cry.  She will talk to me about those flowers every day this week, I’m sure.

But I am not writing about these acts of kindness to tell you how wonderful I am at being kind.  I’m writing this post because of the way I felt all day on Monday.

Kindness buoyed me through my day.

Kindness lightened my heart and made me smile.

Kindness spreads like wildflowers on a spring wind.

Try it.  I think you’ll find that being kind makes you a happier person all the way around.

Pledge to Choose Kind!

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#DWhabit The habit of writing daily with Jennifer Laffin. Click to connect to her site.

Today’s daily writing word is Unite.  For me, this word connects some dots in the world.  The first dot was the sermon at my church today.  Our priest talked about Quantum Entanglement and how it works with prayer; the idea that the life and death of each of us has influence over the other.  When we hold another person in our hearts, as in prayer, we are connected.

The second dot is the International Peace Day, which is this Thursday, Sept. 21st.  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is collecting resources on this padlet.  I want to work with my students on peace poems.  My plan is to pass out a variety of poems about peace and have groups of students discuss them, then turn to their own writing.

The third dot is an acrostic poem I wrote this morning in response to the word Unite.

 

Another dot in this united maze is a story I heard from a friend about Constitution Day at a local university.  She said a Muslim woman was naturalized at the ceremony; however, when asked if she would pose with her family for a photograph, she said she was afraid.  My friend cried telling this story.  How can we offer freedom and citizenship along with fear?  I hope the energy of kindness and support surrounding this special day planted a seed of peace. May we all be seeds of peace.

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

 

Grace takes a breath.

Grace assumes positive intent. Grace gives us permission to fail or forget or forge ahead. Grace helps us to try again, to keep going, to work the tasks, one manageable piece at a time.

Lee Ann Spillane

For my one little word in 2017, I chose Cherish.  There was purpose in this as I knew the special moments with my children would be fewer.  I wanted to be sure to cherish every family event.  And I did.  We had a beautiful wedding in March, and I cherished visiting time with family this summer.

 

Things change.  Fast forward to August, 2017 when the thing I need most is grace.  The kind of grace that Lee Ann Spillane is asking for.  The grace that lets me be imperfect and unorganized, stressed out and overwhelmed.

This grace comes in the questions from my yoga instructor on Saturday:

How will you enter into this day?
Will you try to fit through the needle?
What is the shape of a cloud?

Metaphorical me wants to have grace like a cloud, not the stormy ones that have threatened the Gulf coast this week, but those white fluffy ones.  The ones that cover the sun allowing crepuscular rays to escape.  I find hope in those clouds. I can be any shape I want to be.

I received grace in the storm.

Hurricane Harvey has devastated Houston. For that, I am deeply saddened and continually praying.  Around here in South Louisiana, we’ve had rain, rain, rain.  School was cancelled due to street flooding, but so far no home damage.

My grace came in the shape of a storm.  Time to resettle myself.  Time to regroup, reorganize, and get a grip.  Time to cherish my good fortune and blessings.

Help Houston:

Kate Messner has set up an auction KitLit Cares.  Please consider a bid to benefit yourself and your students and ultimately help our friends in Houston.

This storm just won’t quit.  My friend, author Caroline Sibbald Leech, posted this link for places to donate and ways to help.

 

Be sure to set aside time on Labor Day evening to join the #TeachWrite Twitter chat as we discuss finding time to write.

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

 

There’s no denying that this has been a difficult start to a new year of teaching. I’ve been faced with a number of new directives, new policies and new students. I have felt like I would never quite get my feet on the ground.

I started this week with teaching the Book, Head, Heart framework from Disrupting Thinking by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. (Christina Noseck was interviewed by Scholastic and quoted in this article about the framework.) While I was discussing the Heart part of reviewing a book, I made a mental connection. Here I’ve been overwhelmed and quite ranty if you’ve been within earshot lately, but what is the heart of my call to teaching?…the kids.

I looked at my group of students all attentive and ready to learn and realized that none of that other stuff matters all that much. Not as much as this: The heart of my teaching is connecting to the heart of a child. This is going to be a great year all because of the hearts I have the privilege of spending time nurturing.

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Poetry Friday posts are with Kay at A Journey through the Pages.

Monday, August 21st is the day. Here in South Louisiana we will get about 72% of the total eclipse. On this site, you can put in your zip code to see what time is best for viewing and how much you will see.

Kelly Gallagher sent out this article of the week for students to read closely.

NASA is full of interesting information.  I even found a lesson for my students here that I adapted for younger kids.

On Facebook for Laura Shovan’s 10 words project, Jone MacCulloch posted this:

My students enjoy writing poems about science.  This 10-word prompt worked well for those kids who don’t know what to write when given a more open topic.  By doing this activity, we discussed words we didn’t know and then used them in a poem.  What better way to incorporate science topics, vocabulary, and reading comprehension?  Poetry does it all!

Solar Eclipse

As the sky turns obscure

the shadow will reveal the corona.

The eclipse will collect luminosity

as if it is understanding

that it is interconnected

with the universe.

By now the Solar eclipse should be charged

since the last random appearance.

–Faith, 6th grade

I drafted a poem alongside my students.  Mine is not about the solar eclipse, but an eclipse of another kind.

Cicadas Sing to the Sun

Charged with luminosity,
cicada songs rise in a corona of sound.

My shadow follows their lead,
not to understanding, but
to hope.

When hearts are eclipsed
by misunderstanding,
we forget
our interconnected stories–
yours, mine, ours,
theirs, too.

Obscurity reveals our vulnerability.

When we are too close to the edge
of possibility, one step forward
can change everything.

Be careful where you step.

–Margaret Simon

 

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