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Posts Tagged ‘Donald Graves Award’

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts.  Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts. Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Every week Holly posts a theme on Twitter for our #spiritualjourney posts. Every week it seems to be the most appropriate theme. This week is gratitude. I am posting my acceptance speech for the Donald H. Graves Award. I will give this speech this afternoon at the NCTE Elementary Section Get Together. Reading it aloud makes me cry. I am praying I will be able to get through it without croaking up.

Emily snuck our class lemur, Jack, into my bag.  He is helping me write my speech.

Emily snuck our class lemur, Jack, into my bag. He is helping me write my speech.

Thank you, Detra Price-Dennis, and the Elementary Section Steering Committee for this honor. I am overwhelmed and humbled. Writing drives my work with students and my interactions with the world.

Kate DiCamillo, our National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and one of my favorite children’s authors, says that stories connect us. “When we learn someone else’s story, it shifts the fabric of our being. We are more open. And when we are open, we connect.”

My One Little Word for 2014 is Open, so when I saw the call for submissions to the Donald H. Graves Award, I thought, never in a million years, and why not?

I was encouraged when I saw that Julie Johnson was the 2010 winner. I know her! I read her blog! That is how I have connected to so many wonderful authors and educators. These connections, their stories, have given me courage to be open to new adventures. My fellow blogging teachers have also given me confidence in my own voice through their comments. My small world has grown.

These wider connections have not only enriched my life, but they have affected my students’ lives. Earlier this fall, my 4th grader Emily lost her mother. This should not happen to anyone, let alone to a nine-year-old girl. Of course, I wrote about this profound experience on my blog. Amy Ludwig Vanderwater read it and wrote a poem for Emily. She didn’t say that the poem was for Emily but I knew that she had read my blog.

Someone

Amy became that someone for Emily. When Emily wrote a poem about clouds, she made an Animoto video, so I said to her, “Would you like to dedicate this poem to someone?” Her eyes lowered. I know she thought I meant her mother. But when I said, “Amy Vanderwater,” her eyes danced. We tweeted the poem-movie to Amy. For Poetry Friday the next week, Amy posted it on her blog along with some writing tips from my 4th grader. These connections, these stories, strengthen us when we need it most. Emily feels like a real poet. She will always have that gift, and Amy recognized her and honored her.

I began this journey when I attended the summer institute of the National Writing Project of Acadiana. There, Ann Dobie, director at the time and an important mentor ever since, introduced me to the work of Donald Graves. His philosophy that a teacher of writing must be a writer has entered my heart and soul.

I am grateful to the National Writing Project for supporting my desire to be a writer. I am grateful to the works of mentors like Ralph Fletcher and Aimee Buckner. I am grateful to the Two Writing Teachers, all 6 of them, who support the Slice of Life challenge and hold each teacher/writer in their gentle and wise hands. My family and my colleagues back home in New Iberia give me love, confidence, and the freedom to write and teach in way I believe is right and true.

Our stories connect us and make us partners on this journey of life. I encourage you to be Open, open to the lives of your students and to the lives of others. Write your life and, as Amy Vanderwater reminds us, Be the someone.

My view of the National Harbor from my hotel room at NCTE.  What a beautiful day!

My view of the National Harbor from my hotel room at NCTE. What a beautiful day!

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Sugarcane tractor on display at school.

Sugarcane tractor on display at school.

It’s Sugarcane Festival, y’all! This is the annual celebration in New Iberia to open the harvest season. I love this season. The cane is getting tall. The air is getting cooler. And there are parades galore.

I am involved in The Berry Queens, so named because New Iberia is sometimes called “Da Berry.” Last night we inaugurated our very first Candy Toss Parade. About 30 golf carts were blinged up with lights, decorations, and shiny Berry Queens. What a fun time! Here are a few pictures.

Candy Toss parade

I’m still basking in the glory of the NCTE Donald Graves Award. My local paper did a feature article that appeared on the front page on Friday. I’ve had so many wonderful congrats from our community– The local parks director grabbed me in the parade, a neighbor yelled from his car while I was walking Charlie, and a longtime teacher friend came to my front door this morning. I am impressed by the number of people who are taking the time to read my essay. I have pretty strong convictions about the teaching of writing. I am humbled that my own beliefs are touching so many.

photo (82)

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

I am pleased, honored, amazed to announce that I am the 2014 recipient of the NCTE Donald Graves Award for the teaching of writing. The award will be presented to me on Thursday, Nov. 20th in Washington, D.C. at the Elementary Section Get-Together during the annual convention. Follow this link to see my name in lights and a link to my reflective essay. I owe a huge shout out to all of my blogging friends who have supported me in the development of my teaching philosophy. I am so blessed to be a part of this supportive community.

Minga, my mother-in-law, sent me flowers to celebrate the Donald Graves Award.

Minga, my mother-in-law, sent me flowers to celebrate the Donald Graves Award.

I want to celebrate the outpouring of love and compassion from the kidlit blogosphere in expressing sympathy for my student Emily’s loss of her mother this week. I will be attending the funeral today and sharing with Emily your messages. Amy VanDerwater of The Poem Farm shared a poem yesterday that was inspired by my post about Emily. Emily and I are both touched by this kindness. Visit Amy’s site to read her special poem of empathy.

FOREST COVER

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