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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Last week our gifted students in grades 4-6 went on a field trip that incorporated three activities. Each teacher’s group rotated through practicing for the Shadows Christmas play, visiting the Bayou Teche Museum, and going on a Poetry Walk.

Pelicans, a sculpture at Paul Allain’s Architecture office

The Poetry Walk took students through a sculpture garden, bayou side boardwalk, and a pocket park called Church Alley. I wanted the students to experience each space in a unique way. For the sculpture garden, we wrote a simple free verse poem of 15 words or less, along the boardwalk, a haiku form that reflected the theme of nature, and in the alley, a mask poem written in the voice of someone from the past.

At the museum, we learned interesting facts about the Bayou Teche and the founding of New Iberia. Frederick Duperier, a founding father, wanted a pathway from his home to the church, and later, the alley was used by nuns who lived in Mount Carmel, the Duperier’s former home.

Here’s a sampling of poems from my students.

Bayou Teche, a snake
slithering its way past us.
The Teche silent still.

Breighlynn, Bayou Teche haiku

Walking through an alley
a very dark, dark alley
to be lit up by
a beautiful church.
The dark dirt
of the alley
much darker than I thought
but a bit brighter
from my very own steps.

Breighlynn, Church Alley
Church Alley pocket park in downtown New Iberia.

The nuns, somber and solemn,
pass silently by my form.
They are hope, in a dark world.

Madison, Church Alley septercet

eyes big 
nose as big as an elephant
peeper sees everything
no matter mouse or bug

Landon, Sculpture poem

On the Bayou Teche
pelican in the distance
lily pads floating

Maddox, Bayou haiku

We celebrated these small poems with sharing time after each writing time. The students cheered for each other and enjoyed being poets paying attention to common places. Each poem was unique. The whole walk took about an hour with 20 minutes in each site. I recommend creating a poetry walk for your next field trip.

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

On Wednesday in freezing temperatures (an unusual 28 degrees in the morning), I traveled with gifted colleagues and 4th-6th graders from our district to the Renaissance Festival in Hammond, LA. As the day wore on, the temperatures rose to a comfortable 50 degrees. With a number of parents attending, I ended up spending the day with just one student, Madison.

Madison loves all things Renaissance. We watched glassblowing and juggling and had a quick recorder lesson. I loved watching her absorb it all. When we ran into classmates, she pulled out the wooden dagger she had bought and challenged them to a dual.

Renaissance merchant with a wooden toy.

My students wrote about their experience and here are a few quotes:

 So at the renaissance fair we started at the Queen stage and watched a play which I didn’t watch all of. The next play we went to was Romeo and Juliet which was quite funny. Shakespeare himself directed Romeo and Juliet and the first thing he said was  dumb which we replied with no and which he replied well your watching a play directed by someone who calls himself Shakespeare. There was two families and the I was in was the Montagues the other people were Capulets. We will not talk about the rest and no I was not Romeo.

Jaden, 4th grade

 We saw this ride where you sit on a wooden horse and you in a way, joust. I think it was called “Sliding Joust.” Daniel told me he went on it. It looked daring to me.

        I learned that most of the swords weighed about two pounds. She even let me hold one of them. You would think that is not a lot, little do you know it really is. 

        We went to a shop and we asked why did they train with wooden swords. The man told us that they trained with wooden swords because if they did not train with wooden swords the real sword would hurt the other person.

Karson, 5th grade
Karson lifts a sword.

When it comes to field trips, this was a good one. The distance was not too far, 2 hour drive, and the experience was all in one safe, enclosed space. There are so many factors that can overshadow the educational experience of a field trip, weather, food, the bus and who you sit next to, etc. For a few hours, my students and I were transformed back in time. This experience will live on in their memory.

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Ruth Ayres invites bloggers to celebrate every Saturday.  I don’t always post, but today I wanted to celebrate our field trip this week.  My students are practicing for a play they will perform next week for first graders at the Shadows, a local plantation home.  Wednesday was the day we signed up for rehearsal, so my students were able to try on the costumes and see where each scene would be in the house.  They were excited and nervous.

After the rehearsal, we walked to an iconic cafeteria on Main Street, Victor’s, where Dave Robichaux eats. I had to give them a speech before we went in about how their eyes would be bigger than their stomachs.  The first thing on the shelves are delicious looking desserts.  My experience has taught me that young children left on their own to choose their food rarely pass up desserts.  Victor’s offers home-cooked meals like rice and gravy, smothered pork chops, fired chicken, and the Wednesday special was a stuffed catfish.  Yum!

But the highlight of the trip was the movie Wonder.  I’ve read the book a few times.  Some of my students have read it at least once.  Some had not read it but now want to.  I asked them to write a blog post about the field trip and gather here some of their quotes about the movie.

I was crying through out the whole movie. This movie made me realize that I am very fortunate and that I should never ever bully. Bullying can be horrible. Auggie had many problems but he knew he would get bullied and he knew that there will be issues caused because of him. This is one of the only movies that touched me emotionally. I really recommend this to you, but you all saw it so just watch it again. Faith, 6th grade

 Auggie’s mom decided that Auggie would begin Beecher Preparatory School in the fifth grade, so he would not be the only new kid. And the day before he started, he met Julian, Jack, and Charlotte. The whole time Charlotte was talking about Broadway, and Julian goes out of his way to be rude. When they get to the science room, Julian says, “This is the science room. It’s supposably hard.” And Auggie says, “It’s not supposably. It’s supposedly. Maybe my mom needs to homeschool you, too.”, which made us all laugh. And at the end, Auggie got the Henry Ward Beecher medal. If I could give Wonder a grade, it would be an A+. Lynzee, 3rd grade

That was such a “wonder“ful movie. That was probably the saddest and most heart-warming movie I ever saw in my life. It almost made me cry and that is a hard thing to do but I didn’t. (Surprisingly).  Andrew, 5th grade

 

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth's blog.

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Celebration time is just around the corner. It’s moving in quickly with the cold front.  My dining table is full of gifts and wrapping paper.  Soon the gifts will be under the tree and my dining table will be clean and ready for family to gather.  How will I ever get it all done?  I ask myself this question every year, and every year, I manage to be ready for the celebration.

In our classrooms, the students are anxious and antsy.  They have more difficultly focusing.  When my colleagues and I began planning a field trip for December 16th, I thought we were nuts to do it so close to Christmas break when the weather (literally and figuratively) changes daily.  It turned out to be the perfect time.

On Friday, the weather was cool but not cold, cloudy but not raining as we set out at 6:30 AM on a charter bus heading to St. Francisville, Louisiana to the Myrtles Plantation, one of the top haunted mansions in the US.  The stories of the “little spirits” both intrigued and frightened my students.  I have to admit I was a little unsettled when I heard ticking coming from the old desk I was standing next to.

Our next stop was the cemetery of Grace Episcopal Church.  This cemetery is a beautiful place with draping oaks and old graves.  Our students made gravestone rubbings that we will later use for a research/writing project.

Gravestone rubbings at Grace Episcopal Cemetery, St. Francisville, LA.

Gravestone rubbings at Grace Episcopal Cemetery, St. Francisville, LA.

Grace Episcopal Cemetery

Grace Episcopal Cemetery

Taking students outside the classroom is an effort in planning, making reservations, arranging payment, yet every time we do it, I realize how important it is to get us outside and into the world. We traveled northeast to Natchez, MS. to visit the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, run the mounds, and learn about the ways of the original Americans. We walked the old Natchez Trace and visited an old inn.

Indian mounds at the Grand Village, Natchez, MS.

Indian mounds at the Grand Village, Natchez, MS.

Walking the old Natchez Trace.

Walking the old Natchez Trace.

When we return from our winter break, we will revisit this field trip and turn our learning experience into digital posts and presentations. But, for now, I celebrate the opportunity to take students out of the classroom and into an earlier time and place to learn and play together.

I will be taking a holiday break from DigiLitSunday. Come back on January 8th.

Please add your own DigiLit posts with the link button below.

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Slice of Life Challenge

At one of my schools, I coordinate a leadership organization called “Paw Pride.”  Students are nominated by their teachers to be in this group.  Throughout the year, we participate in service-oriented projects.

Yesterday we took an end-of-the-year field trip to Avery Island, home of Tabasco sauce.  I love field trips.  Yes, they exhaust me, but the kids are so excited and can’t wait to learn and play.  This group worked hard and raised enough money for this treat.  Avery Island is in our own backyard.  We should know and learn about the products of our own area.

 

3D map

“Are we here?”

“Look!  There’s the warehouse!”

Seeing the overall, big picture on a 3D map intrigues the students.

 

salt barrels

The mash from the peppers are aged for three years.  Salt covers the tops of the barrels, slowly spicing the aging peppers. At the factory store, students sampled different Tabasco flavors and even Tabasco ice cream.

 

bird city 3

In 1895, the snowy egret was nearly wiped out by plume hunters.  E. A. McIlhenny created Bird City, a nesting ground for these majestic birds. I took this picture from the high look-out deck. It was a nice climb but worth it for this view.

Paw Pride with Buddha

E. A. McIlhenny acquired a gift of an ancient Buddha statue in 1936. The statue is surrounded by authentic Asian flora.  Visiting the Buddha is a highlight of any Avery Island field trip.

Jungle gardens

Jungle Gardens is often used for wedding photos, and you can see why. This is a beautiful setting just beyond the Buddha statue in Jungle Gardens.  At this point, the students had disappeared into a wooded area.  I sent a parent chaperone after them.  The magic of this place drew them in.  A wonderful way to celebrate May, these students were able to spend a day outside of the classroom learning about a locally made product as well as enjoying the beauty of nature.

 

 

 

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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.

On Friday we took our youngest gifted students on a field trip. The day started at A&E Gallery. Paul Schexnayder, the owner, is an artist and teacher in our talent program. He opened up this old historical building to the wandering eyes of 1st-3rd grade kids. I asked them to find a piece of art that makes them amazed. I had made a form for them to use for a cinquain poem. After they wrote, they created a final draft to give to Mr. Paul. He will place the poems next to the art piece for visitors to see.

Gwen Voorhies, artist.

Gwen Voorhies, artist.

Madison wrote about the peaceful painting above.

Madison wrote about the peaceful painting above.

Lynzee wrote about a 3-D piece of an alligator on the high trapeze.

Lynzee wrote about a 3-D piece of an alligator on the high trapeze.

Jacob writing

We ventured onward to the Hilliard Museum in Lafayette. This museum is a fine art museum, different from the co-op gallery in New Iberia. The children drew a postcard of a painting and wrote as if they had visited the place. The docent then brought them to an art room where they could color their pictures with oil pastels and colored pencils. My students enjoyed exploring these art materials.

Exploring drawing with oil pastels.

Exploring drawing with oil pastels.

An art display of dresses made from cut up romance novels.

An art display of dresses made from cut up romance novels.

Our final stop (after lunch in the park) was the Lafayette Science Museum where the kids were allowed to roam freely to see dinosaur bones, insects, magnets, and a favorite of all, video games.
Field trips are a great way to expose our students to new things like art. As I was chatting with the docents, they shared with me that not many teachers take advantage of their program. This is disappointing to me. We need to take our students out of the school and into the world of ideas and creativity. This field trip was inexpensive, too. We only charged the students $5. They brought their own lunches and our gifted program procured the school bus.

I celebrate the beautiful day (temps in the 70’s), art, enthusiastic docents, and students writing, learning, and playing. An added bonus: Our students are all from different schools, so they made new friends, too.

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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.

The Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans, Louisiana

The Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans, Louisiana

My students started a count down 6 weeks ago when they first heard we were going on a field trip. The day finally arrived. We boarded a charter bus at 7 AM and headed toward New Orleans.

Aquarium wave

First stop, the aquarium. They wandered among sharks and jellyfish and even touched a stingray. We watched the feeding of the penguins. We decided to buy a new class pet, a penguin named Ernie after the oldest penguin at the Aquarium.

penguin

While we were having lunch, the best daughter in the world walked from her office and brought me an iced latte. A double treat, a chance to give her a kiss and the caffeine that is much needed to sustain a day long field trip.

It’s right about here that one of my students decided to run through the water fountain. I really did not think ahead on this one. I didn’t think I needed to explain to gifted students that water makes you wet. He had to sit in his wet clothes in the Imax theater. A colleague,who was trying her best to calm my anger, told me this would be a logical consequence. (I am now able to see the humor of it all.)

The Imax movie told us the story of Hurricane Katrina. I did end up with one student clinging to me. It was intense. We must tune in the loss of wetlands in our state. This movie was visual proof.

Our last stop was the Insectarium. Here we enjoyed eating bugs. Yes! They were full of protein and covered in flavors.

insects to eat

The butterfly garden was magical. Two butterflies landed on Emily. Now Emily’s usual mode of transportation is running, hopping, skipping, but here in the warm garden, she slowed down and held out her arm. One of these friendly butterflies stayed on her hand for a while. A little miracle.

This morning I am celebrating a full day of adventure, fun, and learning. On the bus trip home, I announced a quiz bowl competition. The Audubon Nature Institute provided resources for educators. We printed out a scavenger hunt for the kids. On the bus, we awarded points for answers. My team didn’t win, but I plan to reward them anyway. All in all it was a great day!

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres is gathering Saturday Celebration posts on her blog. Click the image above to visit.

Early in October, I had an author visit my gifted classroom. Chere’ Coen wrote the book Haunted Lafayette. When she was talking to the students about ghost stories, she mentioned Jefferson Island, and the students did not know anything about a location just down the road. Rip Van Winkle Gardens located on Jefferson Island is a land of beauty while also a place of historical and geological significance. I decided to remedy their lack of knowledge by planning a field trip.

The weather in November can be iffy. On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, we had a cold front and temperatures dipped while the wind blew hard. All that went away Friday, and the sky opened to the sun. Temperatures rose to a comfortable 75 degrees. The heavens were shining on our day.

I invited some other teachers along, so we gathered 32 area gifted kids from second through sixth grade. They watched a video and learned about the actor Joseph Jefferson for whom the island was named. They learned about the salt dome disaster of 1980 when an oil drill punctured the salt dome causing a whirlpool that closed the salt mine and caused damage to acres of land. The owner’s home fell into the lake leaving only the chimney visible today.

A huge gong hangs from an old oak tree.

A huge gong hangs from an old oak tree.

Lake Peigneur with chimney

Lake Peigneur with chimney

We toured the historical mansion, and took a nature walk along the trails through the lush and beautiful gardens. Even before I told them they could, the students started collecting items from nature. They couldn’t help themselves. They picked up peacock feathers, moss, flowers, bamboo sticks, pinecones, etc. I gave them ziplock bags to hold their collection.

After collecting, I gave the students a Private Eye loupe magnifying glass. The exercise went like this: Look at your chosen object through the loupe and ask the question, “What does it look like? What else? What else?” In this manner, students were able to build a metaphor poem. This exercise worked well for my youngest writers. Here are a few.

emily private eye poem

erin metaphor poem

private eye

Kielan metaphor poem copy

A little lagniappe (South Louisiana for something extra) occurred when the owner saw me and asked how the day was going. I introduced myself and explained how the students did not know the stories of Jefferson Island. He brought me into the gift shop and handed me a DVD and a book. When I introduced him to two of our students, he told them some of the ghost stories. What a thrill for these kids and for me! Today I celebrate the success of our field trip, the learning, observing, writing, and friendships!

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Discover. Play. Build.

Today is Celebration Saturday over at Ruth Ayres’ Site, Discover, Play, Build.

Yesterday was a wonderful fall day! The air was clear and crisp. A perfect day for a field trip. The gifted program for our district takes the 4th-6th graders on a field trip every other year to St. Francisville, LA and Natchez, MS. Early Friday morning at 6 AM, our students and teachers, along with some parent and grandparent chaperones, boarded a chartered bus and headed north to St. Francisville.

atchafalaya sunrise

In St. Francisville, we toured the haunted Myrtles Plantation home. One of the stories we heard was about a slave who had her ear cut off. This ghost apparently steals earrings, actually takes only one for her remaining ear, and is especially fond of hoop earrings. And sure enough, one of the moms had on hoop earrings. One was gone, Poof!, by the end of the tour. I had the freezons, which is Cajun for chills.

Students pose at the outdoor fountain.

Students pose at the outdoor fountain.

After touring and walking the beautiful grounds of the Myrtles, we headed down the road to Grace Epicopal Church to their old cemetery. There the students did gravestone rubbings. Next week we will research these and write historical fiction stories.

Candice rubbinggravestone rubbing

In Natchez, we ate lunch on the grounds of the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, and the kids had the chance to run up and down Indian mounds and learn about the pottery and basketry of the Natchez Indians. A favorite souvenir for my boys were arrowhead pendants.

Then on to Longwood Plantation. Longwood is an impressive site, the largest plantation home in Natchez; however, the only completed part is the basement. The Civil War broke out, and the owner died of pneumonia. His widow raised 8 children in the completed part of the basement which was only 10,000 square feet. Imagine the completed house would have been 30,000 sq. feet. You go up the stairs and can see the framework of the incomplete mansion. It is most fascinating. Again at this plantation, the students sketched. Back at school, they will compare and contrast the life of a child at each plantation we visited.

Longviewsketching at LongviewNigel sketching

Even though the trip was long and we didn’t get back home until 8:30 PM, the friendships made and nurtured as well as the history learned and appreciated made this field trip a valuable experience for everyone.

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Slice of Life Tuesday

Slice of Life Tuesday

I have an incredible mother-in-law who loves to travel. The more exotic, the better. This spring she traveled to Burma (now known as Myanmar). When she returned, she visited my classes to take them on a virtual field trip through Burma.

My mother-in-law’s grandmother name is Minga, so I told the children they could call her Minga. (Some of them called her Miss Minga to be respectful.) Minga came dressed in costume. She wore a traditional Burmese skirt which was merely a piece of woven colorful cloth wrapped around her waist and tied on. She didn’t wear shoes. In Burma, the people take off their shoes anytime they enter a building. The kids thought this was so cool that they tried to take their shoes off, too. Minga carried a bright red parasol and wore a pasty sunscreen substance on her face as the Burmese women wear.

When she came in the classroom, she bowed and said, “Minga la ba.” This means hello, goodbye, good afternoon, everything in the way of greeting. We thought this was so funny that Minga’s grandmother name is a greeting in Burma.

Minga told the children about the many differences in the culture across the globe. She also talked about how they were similar. She had a photograph of children playing a game like the game Qwirkle that we had only recently been playing in our classroom.

She shared the cake-like substance that they put on their faces as well as some sweets. She showed the students the process for making the sweet candy, from climbing the tree to get the fruit, to grinding using a mortar and pestle.

The students were full of wonder and questions. They enjoyed being able to try to carry a basket on their heads. They realized that we have a great many luxuries, even our bathrooms and electricity. It was invaluable for my students to be able to experience this foreign culture first hand.

A picture gallery

Boys go to monk school in the summer and must beg for their food.

Boys go to monk school in the summer and must beg for their food.

Girls shave their heads to attend a nun school.

Girls shave their heads to attend a nun school.

Women carry foods and other things on their heads.

Women carry foods and other things on their heads.

A pagoda, a Buddhist holy temple, at sunset.

A pagoda, a Buddhist holy temple, at sunset.

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