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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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The more I play with the poetry tools, the less I trust them.  I want to manipulate the words into something, anything that rings true.  Yesterday I combined magnetic word pieces with metaphor dice.  Both of these poems interested me, but I don’t think either is a great poem.  Let’s just live in the moment for a moment.

 

White misty rose
unspoken kiss
of light wine

True summer echoes
as delicate time lost
my bare feet say-shine

 

 

 

 

 

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol at Beyond Literacy Link.

One of my favorite books in my rather large collection of poetry books is What the Heart Knows by Joyce Sidman. This week I shared the poem Happiness, a chant invoking happiness.  We talked about writing from the perspective of direct address to an emotion.  I directed my students to choose an emotion and to try using imagery to make the emotion personified.  I played along with my kiddos and took out the magnetic poetry cookie sheets.  Finding the word poems mused me to write a direct address to poems.  Karson and I both used the imagery of a monarch butterfly drawing on our experience of hatching and releasing monarchs this week.

Poems,

You hide in shadows
of oak trees.
You whisper words
in the breeze.
You shudder my heart.

Poems,
When we meet eye to eye,
I am amazed
by your strength,
unexpected yet welcome.

Poems,
Your delicate wings
unfold before our eyes
surprising us
with your ease of flight.

–Margaret Simon, draft, 2019

 

Free image from Pixabay.

 

Excitement,

too much thrill can bring confusion
and confusion leads to mystery.
You are like the breeze on the top of a mountain.
When I see the brightness of the moon, I feel you.
You are the feeling when a monarch flies into the distance.

Karson, 4th grade

 

Curiosity,

You are full of forest mazes
that my mind gets stuck in.
My eyes show the way.
You bring me thoughts,
you make me think,
Curiosity

Jaden, 3rd grade

 

 

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