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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

See more Spiritual Thursday posts with
Ramona at Pleasures from the Page.

Today, Spiritual Journey First Thursday is celebrating connections at Ramona’s site, Pleasures from the Page.

Tuesday was a tough day. I sang in the choir for a good friend’s funeral, gone way too soon after a brave battle with breast cancer. As I was talking to her best friend, the friend who had been by her side and the friend who kept me updated, I mentioned that I had sung in a community choir with the soloist. Juliet said, “My mother sang in that choir. Her name was JoEllen.”

I lost it. Tears flowed. I held onto Juliet. I had known her mother.

Connections are multi-faceted. You may connect to someone once or over a period of time. JoEllen and I sat next to each other in the community choir every fall for a few years. Once we went to a musical concert together, but we rarely got together outside of choir rehearsals. One December, she stopped coming to rehearsal. Someone said she lost her voice. It wasn’t until later that I found out that JoEllen was sick with cancer. I never saw her again.

And here was Juliet, someone I had connected with over a mutual friend’s illness. After we took a long hug, I told her, “I don’t want to lose touch.” We both loved our friend Amy. We both loved her mother JoEllen. Now we needed each other. Connections are essential, magical, and meaningful. May we all find meaningful, loving, and God-filled connections. Peace!

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Poetry Friday round-up Mary Lee at A Year of Reading.

Naomi Shihab Nye has been named the Young People’s Poet Laureate of the US. I can’t think of anyone better. I’ve met Naomi on a few occasions, most recently when I moderated an NCTE presentation in November, 2018. Her gentle manner and down-to-earth style is just right for these times. She’s comfortable and makes you feel comfortable, too.

One of my favorite young people’s poetry book by Naomi Shihab Nye is A Maze Me. For one, this is a great title with multiple meanings. It’s a book of poems specifically for girls. The poems comfort, amaze, and give readers a sense of the timelessness of childhood.

My favorite line of poetry appears in the poem Ringing that seems to be about all the sounds of ringing a child may hear. The vegetable truck, milk truck, and the ever-ringing ice-cream truck. “They are all bringers.”

The last line reads “I want to be someone making music with my coming.”

Along with all the luscious on the lips m-sounds is a deeper meaning. A longing we can all relate to. We want to be expected. We want to be adored. We want to be loved. Naomi captures this universal longing in one simple line. That is the genius of her poetry.

I sing lullabies to my grandson. I am embarrassed if anyone hears me. But I shouldn’t care. I want to be the someone in his life who makes music with my coming. This is love.

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Last week I wrote about nesting, a Carolina wren nest in the school garden and our wood duck box. School is out today, but on Thursday last week, one of my students and I went out to check on the garden. It had become a Thursday thing.

A group of sixth graders were there. I didn’t want to alert them to the bird nest. I thought I was keeping it safe from the spirited group. Kaia and I thought it was “our little secret.”

I have to admit now that I know nothing about nature. I keep trying to learn, and this visit was a hard lesson. I had my phone with me and wanted to get a video of the little nestlings. I climbed up on the wooden box and reached my arm into the twisted vine where the nest was burrowed. “No video for you!” the mother bird quickly let me know with a few knocks to my head.

I screamed! And ran! Luckily, the group of 6th graders were long gone, so Kaia was the only witness. We sat for a while at the picnic table, so I could gather my wits again. Needless to say, the nesting ground is sacred. I will be more respectful in the future.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Dani at Doing the Work the Matters.

This is my last week of school and a perfect time for reading picture books and writing about dreams. I read aloud Happy Dreamer by Peter Reynolds.

Peter Reynolds wields his word-magic wand in this book. Near the end, there is a double flap that opens up to reveal multiple dreamers and ways to be happy.

What kind of dreamer are you?

Here’s a list poem of some of them:

Celebration Happy
Stage Dreamer
Family Happy
Fierce Dreamer
Ocean Happy
Dreamy Dreamer

Make a Difference Happy
Civic Dreamer
Foot Stomping Happy
Crazy Dreamer
Kindness Happy
Sunny Dreamer

I tried a simple writing prompt “What kind of dreamer are you?” Breighlynn used a repeated line and showed me the way to a form.

I am a wild dreamer
seeing things
others cannot
playing with invisible lions
petting the prettiest jaguars
What will I see next?

I am a wild dreamer
playing with hippos
when taking a bath
riding on alligators
when floating in the pool.

I am a fierce dreamer
fighting dragons one day
protecting the king, the next.

I am a fierce dreamer
standing guard at the castle.
If I die,
oh well,
it’s just a dream.

Breighlynn, 3rd grade

Madison used a free form and found her way to her love of art.

I am a thinking dreamer–
Worlds and tales threaded through my daydreams,
a tapestry or another world
where the limit is my own self.
These worlds of mine are
drawn,
put to paper,
and solidified within
my own
mind.

Madison, 5th grade

What kind of dreamer are you?

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life
Carolina wren nest in the school garden.

It’s that time of year. Yes, we are in the last week of school and instead of nesting, I am de-nesting, if that’s even a word, but in the natural world, it is nesting time.

Out in the school garden, we were planting sister seeds, sunflowers and beans. Our garden sponsor explained that while the stalk of the sunflower is thick and tall, the beans grow on a thin vine that will wrap around the sunflower stalk. They help each other. I love this and was anxious to get our seeds into pots for my students to take home for the summer.

There is a thick vine growing in the garden, a perfect hiding place for a nest. I heard little peeps and climbed on a bench style storage box to see a bird sitting on a nest. I scared her off and there were baby birds wide-mouthed and featherless in the nest.

I wasn’t sure what kind of bird it was, so I sent my students on a Google search to find it. We think she is a Carolina wren. There is something so marvelous and hopeful about a nest of baby birds.

If you’ve been following the wood duck drama, you know that we now have another clutch of eggs. The first clutch of eggs this spring, we believe, got too cold and died. We cleaned out the nesting box on Easter Sunday. Last week amidst end of the year activities, field trip and splash day, I didn’t check the doorbell camera much. (We mounted a doorbell camera on the roof of the house and can monitor the activity inside.) On Friday night as I was settling in bed, I heard an alert on my phone. It’s unusual for the female to go into the box at night. Unless there are eggs!

I was so excited to see that she had been busy all week laying a new clutch of eggs. She’s been sitting on them every night since. Yesterday she spent the whole day in the house. I think it’s safe to start counting the days. These eggs should hatch around June 16th. Fingers crossed. Prayers said.

Wood duck hen in a nesting box.

On Twitter last week, Amy VanDerwater tweeted an article from the New York Times about the devastation of climate change and the things we can do. In my small corner of the world, I am nurturing these nesting birds and am holding onto a bit of hope for the world.

And I can remind myself, all day long every day, that there’s a difference between doing something and doing nothing. That “something,” small as it might seem, is not “nothing.” The space between them is far apart, limitless stretching distances apart. It’s the difference between a heartbeat and silence.

Margaret Rinkle, Surviving Despair in the Great Extinction, May 13, 2019

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

In May the flowers appear and the end of the school year rushes up like the ground when a plane is landing. The fears and doubts niggle at you. Have I done enough? Have I reached who I needed to reach? The beauty and curse of it is that you have, and you will also never know. The moments that mattered most to others are rarely the ones we remember. The encouragement and guidance teachers give moment to moment is as unconscious as breathing. And students will go on just living their lives, holding on to a moment or two of encouragement from you that you’ve missed in the midst.

Brenda Power, Choice Literacy, May 10, 2019

I walk past the countdown every day.  10 more days of school.  One of my students asked me last week if I would put a countdown on the board, and I told her, “I don’t like countdowns. It’s just a reminder that I am going to miss you.”

There are so many things to do in May.  Paperwork, cleaning, packing… I’m not into it.

Don’t get me wrong, once summer is here, I’ll be enjoying sleeping in, reading a good book, visiting my parents in Mississippi, and walks with Charlie.  This summer I have the added benefit of time with my new grandson.  All that is good, but I wish we didn’t have to go through May to get there.

In May, I question if I’ve done enough.

In May, I wonder who will watch out for my students’ reading and writing growth over the summer.

In May, I feel a sense of losing my grip.  Slip-sliding to the end.

My friend Christina Nosek of Literacy Learning is doing a blog series on the last 20 days, about how she is making learning happen each and every day.  I admire this.  I envy her self-contained classroom.  With my itinerant status, I am never quite sure who will show up for class in the last weeks of school.  There are a multitude of field trips and special days, and I’m often left out of the loop.

What I do know is that whoever shows up will read and write their way to the last day, with a few learning games thrown in. We will celebrate the reading we’ve done, write final blog posts, and plan for our summer reading.  We will say goodbye, but many of my students I will teach again next year (the plus side of pull-out gifted).

May is here.  I must face it.  Head up.  No crying. Hugs all around.

May Day Flowers

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Elizabeth Steinglass.

 

Ladybug larva on milkweed feasting on aphids.

We went out to the garden yesterday for the last 20 minutes of class, and Jennie was there.  I sat down next to her, and we talked about all the aphids on the milkweed.  “But you see here,” she explained, “this is a ladybug larva.” Jennie taught me about the life cycle of the ladybug.  The larva go through 5 exoskeletons and eat thousands of aphids.  She called them meat eaters.

I called the kids over (they were picking buttercups) to hear her impromptu instruction.  We will come back next week to see the progress of the ladybugs, and if there are any new monarch caterpillars.

She thanked us for spending time in the garden and gave us seeds to plant, sunflowers and beans.  She explained that these are sister plants.  The sunflower has a strong stalk for the bean vine to climb.  I enjoy time in the garden as much as or maybe more than my students do.

Here’s a may-ku about ladybugs:

Ladybug larva

feast on garden aphids

before blooming red.

–Margaret Simon, 2019

adult ladybug

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