Monday, August 31, 2015

Things That Matter

          Slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community is a pleasure every week.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.

          When I taught, I did have students write to me before school, about their reading and writing habits and wishes, their dreams for the future (I taught middle school age students), what they'd been doing recently, and on. And I valued the information they gave. In the first days of school we wrote a lot, and one of the pieces that I feel held the most importance of "who" each student was is a writing topic I called "things that matter". I used different books each year. Remember, I always had students for the second year, and often for a third, so couldn't use the same resources each year. I used picture books often as mentor texts, and the following ones are inspiring in different ways. I hope you'll find and read them to discover your own unique ways to use them in order to inspire your writers to write from their hearts, "things that matter".  In my writing, I've written this prompt all through the years, and some words stay the same, but time also makes them change. It might be fun to have students write at the beginning and then at the end of the year to see if they have changed views. 
            Here are books that I've used: Lois Lowry's Crow Call, Patricia MacLachlan's What You Know First, Byrd Baylor's The Other Way To Listen and Thylias Moss' I Want To Be. If I could, I would also use Eve Bunting's Yard Sale, published since I've been out of the classroom.

             Things that matter: laughter with my grandchildren, kneading bread, Louis Armstrong's singing "What A Wonderful World", the memory of my husband saying "Hi, Babe", sweeping the porch at twilight and hearing the murmur of birds going to bed, moon rise and moon light, finding a word I like, hugs, the sound of a push mower, wind blowing fall leaves, a biscuit buttered hot from the oven, reading in bed, hearing a chickadee, screen door slamming, ocean waves. . .
               What would you write?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

It's Monday - Books Loved

           On Mondays, I share books read for children and teens and link up with Jen at TeachMentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders.  Others link to share adult books with Sheila at Book Journeys who started the meme a long time ago
        Come visit, and tweet at #IMWAYR. Thanks to Jen, Kellee, and Ricki for hosting!

        I read so many picture books this past week, partly because I kept Imogene, and she loves being read to, so we read lots of new library books along with a few of her favorites that stay here. Look at last week's post if you missed the monster book I brought her from the beach bookstore. She loves it so much that she brought it along, and we read it three times throughout the day! Just saying'!

I finished a NetGalley new Dystopian novel, out in September. Here's the review:

             In The Scorpion Rules we discover a future world no one really wants, where an artificial intelligence called Talis has taken over. Yet, although we hear of “him?”, we truly don’t meet until the final fourth of the story. The premise is that Talis has achieved world peace by taking a hostage from every world leader - their heirs, known as "Children of Peace". When a government declares war, the child dies. These ‘hostage’ children are kept in small and isolated communities called “Preceptures”, studying the past and doing chores as others did years and years ago, like keeping bees and goats, raising their own food, etc. Some arrive at the age of five, as our main character, Greta, has, and she knows only this way of living, appears to believe wholly in the philosophy of Talis.
            She is Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, appears disciplined and very smart. One soon realizes that while her intelligence might be real in the content areas, she has no idea that there are other ways to look at the world. The chance of self-knowledge comes with the addition to her group of Eli├ín Palnik, the newest hostage. Greta sees him (and is not supposed to) enter her community in chains and a small piece of herself opens. She begins to have empathy for pain, and later, for other ideas of how the world could work.
             The consistent push of Erin Bow to keep the reader off guard with new insights into how different hostages in Greta’s group act, and react, along with the frightening ideas of constant surveillance, and where the only “overseer” showing to be a sympathetic character to Greta is an AI creates an interesting and frightening read. There are romantic interests, but not where one predicts, and the real heroes are not predictable either.
             The Scorpion Rules is a new approach to dystopian literature, keeping the action in one geographical place, and among just a few characters. The future of the world hinges in this singular place, an alarming thought. In ending, the over-arching power felt from that one Talis and the ending thoughts of Greta creates a hole of “I wonders” that won’t be filled until Erin Bow writes again.

And here are my favorite picture books read:

Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile - written by Gloria Houston and illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb
       I'm sure I read this years ago, but never reviewed it. This is not classified as an n-f story, but it closely follows the life story of Miss Dorothy Thomas, one of the author's heroes when she grew up. Miss Dorothy drove a green bookmobile in the beautiful countryside in a part of North Carolina, bringing books to those who didn't have the ability to get to a library. The words Houston uses in the story are poetic, and the illustrations realistic and gorgeous. Eventually a library was built in a small house that Miss Dorothy ran for years. This belongs to all those stories of people, often librarians who brought books to people living in remote areas. I grew up using a bookmobile for my reading, loving the librarian who soon began to discover what I liked and recommending/bringing me more and more wonderful books. Like the author, I won't forget this librarian in my life.

One For The IPad

slide11It's DigiLit Sunday--digital ideas hosted by Margaret Simon on her blog Reflections On The Teche. Link up here.

         This is a quick post, sharing one app that I'm fond of. I know many of you have IPads, or you have them for students at school. This app, Drawing Desk, has been fun to use. It has a drawing and a doodle component. It is free, but you can pay a little more for a deluxe drawing pack. One can save the drawings, send to twitter or Facebook, or e-mail them and save them in IPhoto. Here's one drawing I did this morning, a shell from our recent vacation to Captiva Island. I don't know if you're trying to draw on the IPads, but it is a new kind of skill that I've been practicing. 

The downside to this is that you can't add text, except by writing. You would have to upload the photo to another app, like Skitch, to add text.  Here's an example:

The wonderful thing about Skitch is that you can access all the files from Evernote.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Celebrating Imagination

              I celebrate each Saturday with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build - Week number 97! There are many others who celebrate, too. Come join us!          Tweet at #CelebrateLu

         The week filled up with those nice things one savors, good connections, good meetings, good times with friends. But today I celebrate the amazing power of imagination. You know how much I love my grandchildren, also think they're very cute, just as you all think of your own children, family, including dogs. It was National Dog Day on Thursday, did you notice? The wonderful pictures on FB made me wish for a dog again.
          In watching the grand-girls yesterday, I had the chance to contemplate the power of play, am celebrating only one thing today, the power of imagination. There have been a number of articles recently about the importance of play, that too much is being taken away and replaced by worksheets/seatwork, in pre-school too!  I kept Imogene yesterday, and she played. We read, we went to the park and met a worm on the way, imagined what it might be like to live in the grass, all alone. What did it eat? Where did it go at night? At the park, Imi started some game in which she paused, said a nonsense rhyme, a shout, then ran up and down the play space again. I'm not sure what she was doing, but she was smiling all the time. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Summer Swap Finale

          Sylvia Vardell, who, with Janet Wong, created those fabulous Anthologies filled with poetry, for all of us, not only teachers and students, is our host today on Poetry Friday. Visit all the poetry treats at her blog, Poetry for Children

          Tabatha Yeatts' idea of swapping poetry has given me the chance to know, then write for numerous people through these recent years. It is a pleasure to do this, trying to find a way to touch someone long distance with words only for them. And it is a wonderful thing to receive one too. Here is my final slow mail surprise, from Joy Acey, one of the few swappers I've had the "joy" to meet, and spend a week with! I spent my first week in a poetry workshop led by David Harrison a few years ago, and Joy was in that group, a veteran that took us all under her wing, spreading love and golf balls with special words all around the grounds. I do hope I'll have the pleasure again sometime. But now I get to share my last swap poem, from Joy. We live far apart, Tucson and Denver, but we do share one thing, beautiful mountains. And Joy knows that, wrote and painted from that connection.
           I love the way the painting changes as she shows those changes in her words, a metaphor for life perhaps? When one has a 'view', Joy has shown us those numerous faces that can be seen. 
Click to enlarge. The background is mine, to take the photo.