Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Whitney Stewart’

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

 

We’ve been talking about mood lately, in reading and in writing. I pre-ordered a box of mindfulness cards, Mindful Kids by Whitney Stewart. They arrived last week.  I started to use them along with meditation first thing in the morning.  I wasn’t sure how a group of various ages would respond to the concept of meditation.  So far, I’ve been pleased.

I pulled a card from the Mindful Kids box and the instructions were to draw a picture of your mood.  I asked my students to select a color that depicted their mood. I talked about the importance of being in touch with what you are feeling.  Each response was as different as the kids in the room.

Dawson, 4th grade, said the picture on the right is how he felt when he came to school. On the left is how he feels in our class.

 

Austin, 6th grade, wrote a key to his color and image choices.

We turned off the overhead lights and sat in a comfortable position. I turned on the Insight Timer app, and we were silent together.

This was a beautiful and thoughtful way to begin a Monday morning, a Monday after another mass shooting, a Monday of a soft lockdown, a Monday in new time.  I am coming to believe more and more in the face of these troubling times, I need to create a safe place.  A safe place for expressing your mood, speaking your truth, and creating peace.

Read Full Post »

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

At the SCBWI conference in New Orleans, I met Whitney Stewart.  She is a nonfiction writer.  I bought her book, Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids.  Whitney has practiced meditation throughout her life, but only recently turned this love into a picture book and mindfulness teaching. 

 

Earlier this week I used her book as our read aloud.  I found meditation music online, turned out the lights, gathered pillows, and asked my students to settle down for meditation.  This was easier for some more than others.  One student opted to sit in his desk and put his head down.  Another opted to continue writing a slice. But a few sat cross-legged on pillows, closed their eyes, and listened to the meditation prompt from the book.

 

There was movement.  There were giggles.  Meditation was a new idea, an awkward idea.  This may take a while to get the hang of.

 

I read two of the meditation exercises.  The second one, Protection Circle, asked the students to imagine a glowing ball of white light between their eyebrows.  “Breathe out and send the light out of your forehead to surround your body.” Then we moved on to a red light in your throat and a blue light inside your heart.  Each ball of light was breathed out to encircle you with light.

 

Following the meditation, Kaiden said to me, “I imagined the three balls of color were fear, anger, and sadness.  But when they left my body, they looked like balls of fire.”

This morning, two of my students came into my room before school asking if they could meditate.  Again they sat on pillows on the floor with lights out.  I read another meditation from Whitney’s book.  They said they felt calmer and more prepared to start their day.  

Whitney’s meditation book is illustrated with child-like images of an elephant and a monkey. While reading aloud, the illustrations don’t matter.  What matters is the space to clear the mind.

I don’t know if I’ll keep this up, but I wanted to try it.  My students are especially stressed because they just completed 10 days of practice testing, and the actual state testing starts in two weeks.  Meditation works for me.  I’m glad to have a resource for passing it on to my students.

Read Full Post »

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

This weekend I ventured to New Orleans for the first regional SCBWI conference (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) aptly named the JambaLAya KidLit Conference.

What an amazing conference complete with lots of books to buy (thanks to Octavia Books) and lots of food to eat (beignets, jambalaya, and king cake!) The conference took place in the classic Academy of the Sacred Heart School on St. Charles Ave. The halls smelled of fresh flowers. The wood floors sparkled. The air felt academic and deeply Catholic.

I met authors, illustrators, and editors, my rock stars. Cheryl Klein, editorial director at Lee & Low Books and author of The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults led two talks, one on “Purpose, Premise, and Promise” and one on revision techniques. During both of these talks, I had important realizations about my works in progress.

A highlight of the day was meeting Angie Thomas, the author of the new #1 best selling YA book The Hate U Give. Angie is from my home town, Jackson, MS, so I had to take a picture with her.  Angie was so humble. Her fame has been rather a whirlwind. She read to us a portion of her editorial letter. This helped me understand that even best selling authors have major issues in their novels that need to be worked out.

 

I wish I took better notes at conferences, but with some speakers, I just want to sit back and listen. That’s how it was with Whitney Stewart. Whitney has traveled the world and written nonfiction books about the Dalai Lama and Walt Disney. She has been lucky in her life to have nonfiction projects find her. Her stepfather handed her letters that led to the book Mr. Lincoln’s Gift, a tale of artist Francis Bicknell Carpenter’s life spent in the White House during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. More recently she found letters that her mother-in-law had in storage about her two brothers who were both German soldiers killed in WWII. More than luck is Whitney’s ability to turn these pieces of history into literature.

I was privileged to sit next to her at dinner Saturday night and share real experiences. Whitney has not yet been able to write about her survival of Hurricane Katrina.  She spent five days in the Tulane Medical School and was rescued by helicopter.  Some experiences take a long time before they become literature.

I could write so much more about this amazing day. At this point I’ll save more reflections for another day, another slice.

Read Full Post »