Thursday, March 31, 2016

Poetry Friday - No Fools, Only Flutters

         Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting Poetry Friday today, and just in time for me to celebrate her new book, Everyday Birds. Thanks for hosting, Amy, and for this beautiful book! Come on over to The Poem Farm for the first day of the 20th anniversary of April as Poetry Month.

There is so much going on this April, and you can discover much of it if you also travel to this post by Jama Rattigan at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

You can take another path to Laura Purdie Salas' blog, Writing The World for Kids, to see the very first line of Irene Latham's poetic idea, the Progressive Poem. I have also posted the entire list of writers on the lower right column of the blog.

I'll be out of town for some of April, so have decided not to write a poem everyday as I have in the past, but may join other invitations, or sneak in some of my own poetry when I can. Happy Poetry Month to everyone writing those magical words called poems!
           I loved and could identify birds since I was a little girl, mostly because of grandparents' influence. One grandfather in particular and I would sit on his back porch and watch birds fly in for evening meetings as they grabbed last bites and settled in for the night. Their murmurs at that time of day still touch me. My first adult awakening came when I read about the passenger pigeon from John Muir's memoir, My Boyhood and Youth. I was shocked that people didn't realize that these millions of birds could disappear, in an earth's instant, from unchecked killing. Other experiences through the years, many with students, brought me to the realization that I love birds, am fascinated by their habits and their evolution into fabulous unique capabilities. To watch a small phalanx of brown pelicans fly low over the ocean and dive for a meal never fails to make me stop and watch in awe. I have seen the last dodo, stuffed and sad at the end of a hallway at the Harvard Natural Science Museum. I have seen and counted sandhill cranes, among which were six whooping cranes, perhaps the only time I'll ever see them. And I have seen and shouted when I spotted my first blue footed boobies in the Sea of Cortez. I love birds.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

SOL16 - 31/31 FINIS

SOL16 - 31/31 - THE ENDING
      I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community for Day Thirty-One of Thirty-One of the Slice of Life Challenge in March.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.  

        I began the journey of slicing in 2011, have now completed my sixth year of this challenge. This time I re-read all my past "final" slices, and the first "ending" one is here. In it, if you are interested, I write of gathering goodbye poems to print, laminate and give to students on the final day of school. And then that year, I wrote a goodbye poem to all the bloggers, YOU, who wrote so faithfully every day. 
        My feelings remain unchanged. I am grateful for the community, the care and support from the seemingly tireless hosts, and those numerous others who visited my blog.  I read every day, the "now" lasting friendships I've made whether I've met you in person or not. And the wonderful thing is, through these years I have met some of you! Enjoy the rest of your year, whether teaching or in other adventures of the world. I will look for you on Tuesdays. . .

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

#SOL16-30/31 - Something I've Learned To Love

SOL16 - 30/31 
      I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community for Day Thirty of Thirty-One of the Slice of Life Challenge in March. WE ARE ALMOST DONE! Congratulations to everyone who have made it this far!
                     Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.  

gathering all day,
clouds touch tall buildings -
rain taps at windows

Linda Baie ©All Rights Reviewed

First the rain. . . (The lilies are a little mashed from the big snow.)

Monday, March 28, 2016

#SOL16 - 29/31 - The Joy of A Tree

SOLC #29/31 - 
      I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community for Day Twenty-Nine of Thirty-One of the Slice of Life Challenge in March.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.  
       Wow-two days to go! Congratulations to all who've sliced twenty-nine days!

It's spring break for my granddaughters and they spent all day Monday with me. I'd love to tell you all the fun things we did, and it was a great day, but something happened near the end I'd like to focus on. 

Do you know this book? "In our bones we need the natural curves of hills, the scent of chaparral, the whisper of pines, the possibility of wildness."
— Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods  Louv's website is here.
              In the afternoon, the girls and I decided to go to a nearby park. It is a large open space park with scattered trees, broad walkways, and a nice playground. They took off. I had been there before with Imogene, the four year old, but Ingrid, six, had not experienced it. They loved every bit, and had the whole place to themselves. Here are a few pictures from that time. It was a sunny and airy day, a happy time pretending different things and trying new equipment.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

#SOL16 - 28/31 - Monday's Great Books

SOLC #28/31 - 
      I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community for Day Twenty-Eight of Thirty-One of the Slice of Life Challenge in March.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.  
           On Mondays, I connect with a group that reviews books they want to share. Here's a fabulous way to discover books you may not know. 

          Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.   

Pax - Sara Pennypacker with some illustrations by Jon Klassen

            Peter must say goodbye according to his father. He must return his fox Pax to the woods, the one he trusts more than any other living thing, the one he’s cared for since Pax was found, the lone pup alive in a den.  Some shadowy rumblings of war in the world outside begin this story of self-discovery, the learning of what is right to do.  Peter’s father takes him to leave Pax, then to his grandfather’s, while the father leaves for war. Peter shows hints of past troubles, hints throughout the book of the guilt he carries from one incident before his mother drives off, evidently killed in a car crash. And Peter knows what he must do; he leaves on a trek of hundreds of miles through forest that same night as his grandfather sleeps.

           And that is where the story begins, when in alternate chapters we realize that not only are we going to observe Peter’s learning on the way, we’re going to observe Pax’s as well. It’s a long journey to research, imagine and write how a fox might behave and think as he encounters the wild for the first time. Sara Pennypacker shows that she did that study well. Here is a bit of the first night alone for Pax: “The long night before, they (noises) had alarmed Pax. The blackness had quivered with the rustle of night prowlers, and even the sounds of the trees themselves--leaves unfurling, sap coursing up new wood, the tiny cracklings of expanding bark--had startled him over and over as he waited for Peter to return.” Pax’s words grab my sympathy as I fear for him as much as for Peter, whose brave and long trek holds dangers too. Soon into the story, Peter is injured. He collapses with the pain, falls asleep. It’s so soon into the tale that I wondered what he would do. That’s when another character appears, a woman living far inside the woods.
              This was beginning to feel like a fairy tale (remember Hansel & Gretel?), but no, it was not. Peter’s further experiences opened new paths to make his way both physically and emotionally. That time became my favorite, filled with different perspectives about feelings and how they both help and hurt our lives. At the same time, Pax was moving into his true domain, a wood with other foxes. One scene touched me very much. One fox with which Pax feels great kinship was wounded. Pax lies with him in the final moments: “He purred with Gray under his silver mother’s rough tongue, tasted her warm milk, felt the weight of her chin resting over his newborn skull. And then peace.”

               The basic plot feels out of the ordinary, but the meaning feels like life, the day to day love we give each other, the fierce love we feel for those close. It is both a human and a creature tale, to learn from and to enjoy all the way through.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

#SOL16 - 27/31 - Easter Sunday Joy

SOL16 #27/31 - 
      I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community for Day Twenty-Seven of Thirty-One of the Slice of Life Challenge in March.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.  
      My family is coming for brunch. I know it will be a good day. 
      I know spring is coming even with snow still on the ground and more sure to come, because indoors my Hoya camosa (wax plant) is blooming, and the aroma fills the house like a candle lit. This plant grows all seasons, but does not bloom until spring One day, I look up to water it (on a top shelf sits this viney plant), and there is a bloom. If I'm lucky, there's more. Not this time, but perhaps soon?

The beginning blooms.

The opening.

            Whatever you do, wherever you are, I wish you a lovely day, and a Happy Easter to those who celebrate it.

Friday, March 25, 2016

#SOL16 - 26-31 - Celebrating A Book That Inspired Me

I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community for Day Twenty-Six of Thirty-One of the Slice of Life Challenge in March.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.  

               And every Saturday I celebrate with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build.  and link with others who share their celebrations, too. I am grateful to Ruth for starting this meme that offers a place to share!

            I've not going to review a book today, that will happen on Monday, but I am celebrating a new book I just read that I'm going to use it as my own mentor text. I'll share the book later. Here is the celebration and slice I created that was inspired by the book. I have other ideas, but did just a little bit of how the book went. One of the ways I loved the book is it seemed like my own copy, published in a typewriter font, with beautiful illustrations. So that's what I did, typed, printed, then made a few sketches.  You may need to enlarge below in order to read easily.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

#SOL16 - 25/31 - Poetry Friday - Discovering Loneliness

SOL16 #25/31 - 
      I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community for Day Twenty-Five of Thirty-One of the Slice of Life Challenge in March.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.  

      And, it's Poetry Friday, today hosted by Heidi Mordhorst at her blog,  My Juicy Little Universe. Heidi is also sharing a poem for Michelle Barnes' challenge. See the explanation below.

Every month, Michelle H. Barnes at Today's Little Ditty interviews a special guest who offered a poetry challenge. This month, this guest is Amy Ludwig VanDerwater from The Poem Farm. Here are Michelle's words about the challenge: "Amy has challenged us to write poems about small things— animals or objects you see everyday and don't give much thought. Click HERE for more details." 

Amy is a master when writing about small things. I know she sees things I miss, and celebrates them often in her poems. I do try to notice, but often they skip right by.

This time I wrote a poem about something my granddaughter Ingrid has noticed. She visits me at least once a week, if not more, and each time she tells me how sorry she feels for the wire wastebasket in my office. All the hours at my house, whenever trash is concerned, she "feeds" this basket, hoping it won't feel lonely anymore. Ingrid is a child who holds many things, mostly living ones, close to her heart, but others, too. She makes sure she visits the extra bedrooms that are not used very much. She hugs the stuffed animals, and pats the large ceramic dog that sits in my living room. I am grateful for her eyes. She notices, as Amy asks, the small things.

The Lonely Wastebasket

A woeful wire wastebasket
sits lonely by my desk,
dejected and rejected.
Waiting for work.

Crumpled scraps of abandoned words
find home with another group nearby.
In the kitchen,
a charming red metal can 
holds a colorful collage of trash,
ripe for making assorted acquaintances.
Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

#SOL16 - 24/31 Blizzard - Yes, It's Spring!

SOL16 #24/31 - 
      I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community for Day Twenty-Four of Thirty-One of the Slice of Life Challenge in March.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.  
       "The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer, self-sufficient. There is no other time when the whole world seems composed of one thing and one thing only."  Joseph Wood Crutch

       Those who know me on Facebook know what my post will be today, the blizzard here in Colorado! We had temperatures in the seventies on Tuesday, and woke up to eight inches of snow, and  still snowing, blowing sideways. I went out three times to the back to shake the heavy snow off my weakest evergreens, and each time, the snow was deeper. Late in the day, the snow was just drifting down and I went to clean off the car (I don't have a garage) and to help clean out the alley. No one plows the alley. I am proud to say that two neighbor women and I shoveled the entire six houses' worth of alley. I wish I had taken a picture of my car, piled so high. It all took about an hour, and I was more than done. My arms will be tired tomorrow. 
      So what did I do on a snowy day that shut much of the city down? I spoke about pictures telling a story yesterday, so I took pictures to tell the story. FYI-I didn't take a picture of all the reading of posts and my book and commenting. You probably know I did that.


Make applesauce. Fill the air with cinnamon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

#SOL16 - 23/31 Someone Who Really Looked


              Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy,
             And thanks for the March Slice of Life challenge with the Two Writing Teachers community for Day Twenty-Three of Thirty-One of the Slice of Life Challenge in March.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.  

        An added bonus: please be sure to read the comments. Some have posted other interesting links!

              When I taught, one of my goals for my students was to learn there are many ways in our world to communicate stories. And I wanted them to try those ways, to find their own "voice" whether it was in words, song/sound, or varied areas of the visual.  
              I want you to imagine using this book with students, to ask them to find something they can photograph that might persuade someone to change their thinking about that something. There are so many ways to make a difference, and Dorothea Lange used photography. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

#SOL16-22/31 - The Things I Carry

SOL16 #22/31 - 
      I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community for Day Twenty-Two of Thirty-One of the Slice of Life Challenge in March.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.  

      As I move around my house, I notice the "things" I have. I've been here three years now, after cleaning out,  having a big sale, and finding a wonderful new place for me. It was closer to my husband who was living in a nursing home by then, closer to my daughter and family. I'm in the city now, and close to museums and lovely little shops that I like. While my home is smaller, I still kept some "things", what I wanted to keep, to help make a new home. I did downsize, but still have plenty of room for family to stay! And plenty of room for bookshelves and books, of course.
       I'm sure you know that a "but" is coming. Much can be given, sold or thrown away, BUT what about those things that connect with my past? Will certain memories disappear? Will someone else make new memories with these objects? I suspect that this is what my grandparents, and then parents wondered as well.  My children are wonderful, but, as my husband and I did, too, they can only keep so much. I walked around the house and took a few pictures of important things, memories. I bet you have some, too.
A grandfather's little man, given to me when I went to college.

A woven heart made for me by my daughter when she was a little girl.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

It's Monday, New Books - Learning #SOL16 - 21/31

SOLC #21/31 - 
      I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community for Day Twenty-One of Thirty-One of the Slice of Life Challenge in March.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.  
           On Mondays, I connect with a group that reviews books they want to share. I love learning about others' favorite books, adding to my own TBR list. I discover books I wouldn't otherwise on this day.

          Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.   

Burn, Baby, Burn - written by Meg Medina 
          Thanks to NetGalley, I was able to read this new book by Meg Medina (out March 8th), set a long time ago, but many of you may remember 1977.  I remember this year. I was not in New York City, but in quiet Denver, reading the headlines of a serial killer and a terrible blackout when whole neighborhoods went up in flames. It was a frightening time for the city, and this time in the novel for a seventeen year old girl, Nora Lopez who has her own troubles. Her mother is struggling to hold a job, the rent is due, and her younger brother is becoming increasingly violent. Her father only calls on holidays and has a new family. Nora cannot wait to graduate, and leave the tension and the responsibility her mother keeps putting on her. She is supposed to calm her brother's temper, but now that she's discovered he's selling and doing drugs, it's even scarier. A young man comes to work at the deli where Nora works, someone that eases the pain, but with the Son of Sam killer on the loose, it isn't safe to go out. He's killing dark-haired girls with their dates!
          Teachers who blog often share that the stories they learn about their students feel like just the 'tip' of what really goes on at home. And this story demonstrates that well. Nora doesn't even tell a long-time best friend her problems. She keeps it inside, shows her best self everywhere, but few know what is happening to her at home. I won't give away the ending, but Medina's writing through Nora's voice is filled with tension and worry. I want to help, I want to cheer for her, and I can't imagine surviving the life she lives, while still doing great in school. She is one of those that make us wonder "how does she do it?" Nora's strength teaches us "how" throughout the book. Older students might want to look for the headlines of that terrible NYC summer, and will love and admire Nora's story.

I do love books with bears as characters, and there are many wonderful ones. This first one just came out. The second is a few years old.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

#SOL16 - 20/31 - Read alouds I've Loved

SOL16 #20/31 - 
      I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community for Day Twenty of Thirty-One of the Slice of Life Challenge in March.  Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.  
A favorite for younger students.
Special today! I just discovered that Catherine of Reading To The Core is also sharing a list of read alouds. Be sure to visit her too!

        I read many books, and recently have been envious of some terrific ones published that I would love to have read aloud to my class. Many of you are sharing what they are, and I've read most of them, and know they are going to be fabulous read alouds.
           Unless it’s a picture book, or an easy chapter book that I read to my granddaughters, I no longer have a class for which to choose a great book. (There have been a few times through the years that a student has chosen/recommended one.) And reading aloud to a group brings much value to the community. It’s a shared conversation inviting many opinions, a way to get to know one another better. It allows me as the teacher to share content from which students will benefit. It can be a mentor text for writing.  It adds to our shared history.  Here is one article from Brightly that shows some benefits of reading aloud to older kids.