Posts Tagged ‘Two Writing Teachers’

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Pay attention! This is our endless and proper work. ~Mary Oliver


School is out, and the last thing my brain wants to do right now is think about digital literacy. When I opened the door to let Charlie out this morning, this snail was working its way slowly and deliberately along a leaf. So I took a picture. My one little word for 2014 is Open, but I think I’ll translate that word to mean “Pay Attention” as a summer goal. Be alert. Don’t let your brain fall asleep.

On the web this morning, I paid attention to two articles. The first was posted by Tara Smith at Two Writing Teachers. Tara writes about her students’ confidence in writing workshop and her release of control. They are using technology in ways she would not have predicted. She is able to take a back seat and watch. Sometimes I feel teachers are too focused on themselves and what they will do in front of the students. Tara’s expertise is in knowing that her best teaching comes from the back seat where she can support her student writers and allow them to discover on their own. Read her article here.

The second article that drew my attention was one a friend posted on Facebook about summer reading, Ready, Set, Read! In this article, research is cited that says reading fiction creates better human beings. We learn to be empathetic by reading. I knew that students needed to keep reading over the summer in order to maintain and grow their reading levels, but I never thought about how that reading makes them better people.

What are you paying attention to today? Please add your Digital Literacy link to Mr. Linky.

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Discover. Play. Build.

Public domain image

Public domain image

I am celebrating another week of poetry. This was testing week. I had the time (while monitoring a small group of 5th graders) to read and to write. I spent some time with my new favorite poetry book, Gold by Barbara Crooker. A poet-blogger friend recommended it. I love Barbara’s style. I sat with the poem At VCCA, I Hear a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, and Think of Martha Silano. I used the line This morning deliquesces. I had a dictionary nearby, so I looked up deliquesces. Then jumped over to the J’s. I found some great J words: jazz, jay, jettison, joyful.

I love playing with words. Thanks for being a part of my month of ABC’s in poetry.

I wish Storybuilder would appear in WordPress, but you have to click the link to see it.



The blue jay jazzes up to the birdbath
looks left, then right
bobs his head up and down
jettisons oak leaves and pollen curly Qs
lifts his nutcracker beak
to let the water flow down his throat.

I watch from the porthole of my kitchen,
think I should clean it today. This king
of jays shouldn’t have to drink dirty water.
This morning deliquesces, softens edges
of the dark night. I want to join
Mr. Jay making his daily rounds,
here and there, collecting
for his new nest. I would gather
blossoms from the fruit tree,
place their fragrance in your path
to let joyful praise of simple beauty
give your heart wings.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

For this poem, I just wrote. I didn’t change much from the written draft to the typed one. This rarely happens to me. I did play around with the line breaks. I enjoy reading about other poet’s processes. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater shares her process on her site The Poem Farm. At the Two Writing Teachers, Betsy Hubbard shares a process she learned from Georgia Heard. I celebrate being a part of a community that learns together.

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A new button for the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge!

A new button for the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge!

Believe it or not, March is almost here. Today, I announced in my classroom, “Guess what? It’s almost March. Slice of Life time!” Over the next two weeks we will talk about it a little each day. What is a Slice of Life story? What are some things you could write about? We have been blogging all year long, but the SOLC steps it up a notch. Rather than expecting at least one post per week, I will challenge my students to write every day and post at least 3 times a week.

Linda Baie and I are sharing the responsibility for supporting the classroom challenge. I will be available to answer questions for teachers whose last name begins with N-Z. If you have questions now, just write a comment. At other times, you can email me at margaretsmn at gmail dot com.

There are two documents that I want to share with you. First, I created a parent letter. I will copy and paste the body of the letter here. Of course, you will want to personalize it for your own use.

February 18, 2014
Dear Parents,
In March, my gifted students will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge. This challenge is lead by the Two Writing Teachers at http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com.
My students will be asked to write every day in March. This writing should be a “slice” of life. We will discuss ideas and have time for writing every day in class. The students will be graded by a rubric requiring at least 3 posts each week and comments on at least two classmates’ writing. If they write for the full month, I will provide prizes. If a student writes 16 or more slices, he or she will get a prize.

The students have been using kidblog.org all year long. This is a familiar format to them. I have set up a kidblog specifically for the Slice of Life Challenge, http://kidblog.org/SliceofLifeChallenge.

This is a public blog; however, I will get an email for every comment and post and will have to approve it before it is posted. I will only allow the students to use their first names, and we will not post any pictures of them. You and family members will be able to access the blog and write comments. Also, I will be posting to the Two Writing Teachers blog so that other teachers and their students can read and comment. This can be a wonderful experience for the students. They will develop good writing skills as they work to make their slices interesting to other readers.
I am asking parents to support this project in the following ways:
• Read your child’s posts and make positive, encouraging comments.
• Allow your child to use the internet to post if they have not been able to at school or on weekends.
• Give permission for your child to post on a public blog.
Please sign the permission form below and return to school.
Margaret Simon

My child, _____________________________, has permission to write posts to the public kidblog, Slice of Life Challenge. I understand that only his/her first name will be used and his/her picture will not be posted.

The second document is a chart the students use to track their slices. Because we will have a Mardi Gras break in the month, I will reduce the number of days required for a prize. You can decide for yourself how many entries are needed to get a prize.
Slice of Life Challenge chart (1) copy

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See more Poetry Friday at Carol's Corner.

See more Poetry Friday at Carol’s Corner.

Bradford pear tree

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, Betsy Hubbard of Two Writing Teachers asked us to take a moment to be still and write a poem. I actually wrote this poem by speaking into my phone on the way to Walgreens to get some decongestant. (My sinuses do not like the cold.) While I was shopping, a young woman, girl actually, asked if she could help me find something. Then she commented that I smelled. “It’s not a bad smell.” I had carried the roasting turkey smell with me. Anything can make its way into a poem.

Thanksgiving Day

Fire orange blazes from the tops of the trees
announcing the season’s change,
so I drive to my parents’ home by the lake
through the woods, tall pines, draping oaks.

Mama puts the turkey on early in the morning
while I still lounge in pajamas.
That Thanksgiving smell fills the air,
a scent I cannot emulate,
a scent I hold here

in my clothes, in my hair, my heart.
My mind does not wander to times before;
I do not miss the sound of children.
No, I am just here with this now,

This turkey roasting, the warmth of the fire,
this place where I am always loved.

–Margaret Simon

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