Sunday, March 31, 2013

April-Poetry Month-Great Reading

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a kidlit meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTSVisit to find posts about terrific books!  Plus, there is a terrific meme hosted by Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children.  
          Don't forget the hashtag #IMWAYR

      "A Poem Begins With A Lump In The Throat."  Robert Frost

           It’s Poetry Month, and here at Teacher Dance on Mondays each week, I share the books I’ve read in the past week.  This month, I’ll also share some poetry anthologies for children that I’ve loved, I’ve used, and some recently published ones you should add to your own collections.

     If you’d like to see more of the spectacular happenings occurring in April, check out Jama Rattigan’s blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup.  I think she’ll be adding to the list as she finds out more, so keep checking in.

       To the right of this page lists the writers for Irene Latham's progressive poem during the month at Live Your Poem.  You can read the lively and interesting poem that was created last year here.   

        And, if you’ve followed along with the March Madness Poetry competition, it is coming to an end.  Soon, you can vote for your favorite poem of the Finals!  Here’s a link to the site..


Plum  by Tony Mitton, illustrated by Mary Grand Pre
             I discovered this beautiful poetry book, published in 1998, in my school library.  It is filled with quirky poems, several story poems, and some clever food poems. The opening, title poem, Plum, had such lines as “Don’t be glum/plum” and “Don’t feel beaten, you were made to be eaten.” Because Tony is British, there are a number of British traditional tales told in rhyme that I didn’t know, like “The Histon Boulder”. that tells a story of a giant of a man  named Moses Carter (perhaps he really was a giant)  who moved a boulder for the village.  This is based on a real person who really did move one, and who is buried in the local cemetery.  It’s a wonderfully written book, with whimsically pastel-rendered illustrations.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Final Post With Colorado Ties!

The March Slice of Life Challenge- 31 of 31  
         Thank you Ruth and Stacey, at Two WritingTeachers, for this wonderful month!
      Tweet at #Slice2013

        I know that the following is a love song, and I also know you may chuckle because it’s a John Denver song, and I’m from Colorado and we love all things John Denver.  There is a park in Aspen dedicated to him.  It has large stones in a kind of amphitheater with the words from some of the well-known ones carved into them.  One autumn my students and I were going to travel to that area to study different areas of energy conservation, and we practiced the songs before we went.  We visited the park and held an impromptu concert for any visitors there, and visitors were there!  It was a lovely place, by large boulders in a stream, shady and cool, just as John Denver would have loved. 
the only photo I could find that I could use
        One of the songs that especially touched us was Annie’s Song, a favorite of many in my class and me.  I have thought all today and the recent days of what I would write in reflection of this month.  It has been a month of challenges, both with the daily writing and my daily life.  Yet I am proud that I persisted, staying up late to be sure I got the piece written, and trying to make each piece “count” for something.  I also think I increased my reading speed because I wanted to read as many slices as possible, and give supportive comments.  I couldn’t make it to everyone, even those I regularly read, some days.  

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Book Read-Mixed Emotions

The March Slice of Life Challenge- 30 of 31  Thank you Ruth and Stacey, at Two Writing Teachers, for hosting such a terrific month!
      Tweet at #Slice2013

       It’s the next to the last post in March, the next to the last post for SOLC.   
        I also participate in a reading challenge offered by Myra, Fats and Iphigene at the wonderful Gathering Books blog.  We pledge to read a certain number of books for children that have won awards.  It can be any kind of book. 
        I just finished Bomb by Steve Sheinkin, The Race to Build—and steal—the world’ most dangerout weapon.  It was chosen to receive a Newbery honor medal for the 2012 year, along with the The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, the Sibert Medal for nonfiction and was a National Book Award Finalist.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

William Stafford Brings It All Together

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Mary Lee Hahn, at A Year of Reading, poet extraordinaire of the spare poem that says so much.  Thank you Mary Lee!

The March Slice of Life Challenge- 29 of 31 
      Tweet at #Slice2013

       And for two more days after this, slicers who’ve written and supported and read and commented for (now) 29 days, will stop, and return to their routines of regular life, a little weary, but very proud and thrilled at all that they learned, about themselves as writers and about others as a community.  It was a terrific month.

A Sweet Day

The March Slice of Life Challenge- 28 of 31 
          Thanks to Ruth and Stacey, at Two Writing Teachers.  It's only a few more days, so come over to visit some bloggers, to see what they're up to!
      Tweet at #Slice2013

            When I think about the slices of my life, several parts of my life come to mind.  I work, so slices can be about school.  I have family both near and far away, so I could write about them, or about friends and our activities together.  Yet, the overarching part of my life that means a slice every day is visiting my husband.  Arvie has been in a nursing facility for a little more than a year now, since March 18th, 2012.  Yes, a huge thing happened on that day when I knew I could no longer care for him in our home.  He was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, connected this time with what is called Lewy Body Dementia in 2007, and declined from that time cognitively and less physically for a long while.  I won't share what I believe is too personal, but during those years, and then in this past one, I have lost my husband, yet he is still my husband, still sees me and smiles, showing that I am someone he knows as familiar.  He is happy with the staff and shows comfort when they care for him.  I am thankful more than my words can say for this caring, but also professional staff.
           My slice today is also about my granddaughter Ingrid, who spent yesterday with me, and part of our day was visiting Grandpa.  Her mother and I don't think she needs to go often, but for now she is at ease visiting, is friendly with everyone and not alarmed with any 'different' behaviors.  Everyone is just old to her, and some talk to her, all smile, and she is a little shy, but okay.  And she is wonderful with Arvie.  She greets him, pats him, and today felt comfortable enough to sing "Baa, Baa Black Sheep" to everyone, especially Grandpa.  We sit in the dining/common area, and residents wheel in and out as they are able.  Ingrid loves to sing so I was teaching her "You Are My Sunshine", and perceptive (my grandchild!) child that she is, she asked who my sunshine was.  I answered "Grandpa, of course."  And then I said, "And who is yours?"  She answered, "My Momma!"  Sweet moment.  But then she asked if I knew who might try to take our sunshine away?  Remember the last line of the song?  Ah, four year olds, or almost!  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Beauty In The Snow - Shadows

The March Slice of Life Challenge- 27 of 31
          Thanks to Ruth and Stacey, at Two Writing Teachers for all their work to facilitate this-  
      Tweet at #Slice2013


               I've made a new blogger connection in these past months and her name is Beverley.  She writes at Bunny's Girl, is doing the SOLS here, so you may know her.  When you visit her site, you will see that she's so creative.  She not only writes, now during the SOLS challenge, but also creates artist's cards, collages, and messes with something called 'cells'.  If you'll look at her past posts, occasionally you'll see that she participates in something called Shadow Shot Sunday.  I don't do that, but have loved seeing the photos that Beverley has shared.  
               It was a beautiful day yesterday, sunny two days after the snow.  Some bare ground, but mostly still snow covered.  I took a few photos to share too, and wrote a poem. Enjoy, and thanks to Beverley for the inspiration.


I like the way the shadows move,
and sit and watch the sun inform
from dawn until the eve
that which we should perceive.

In mornings our day stretches out
like pulling strands of yarn.
Then shadows disappear at noon.
We say “Oh no, too soon!”

In afternoon, the arc has moved.
Elongation is the goal.
Opposing morn; the lengthening slow.
Where do the shadows go?

26 of 31 - What We Wrote In Class!

The March Slice of Life Challenge- Is Nearly Over...
          Thanks to Ruth and Stacey, at Two Writing Teachers for all their work to facilitate this- 26 of 31
      Tweet at #Slice2013

              We’ve all been writing, writing, thinking about writing, then doing more writing!  Stephen King, in On Writing says: If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware off, no shortcut.  

            I have improved my own writing through the years by writing for myself, and by writing with my students.  Audience is important as well as writing for oneself. When I taught my students, I thought it was important for them to write—a lot.  There were formal assignments, but also I did many kinds of things that required writing, some creative and some quick writing that was both practice and a depository for ideas.   Many of my students became more accomplished as writers and I wanted to engage them with varied experiences, many through choice, readying them for their next steps of high school.  Here is a list of things that were written communication that occurred in my class.  This doesn’t even count other writing students did in the other classes they chose to take in what we called a ‘matrix’ choice program. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Reading Slices, & A Few Books! 25 of 31

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a kidlit meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTSVisit to find posts about terrific books!  Plus, there is a terrific meme hosted by Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children.  

Don’t forget to tweet at #IMWAYR

                 Have you found a book this week that fits this description by John Green?

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” 
― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars

And-it’s slice 25 of 31 in the March Slice of Life Challenge at TwoWritingTeachers.   

     Reading this week has consisted of loads of blog posts,  which I’ve enjoyed very much, half of Bomb, by Steve Sheinkin (marvelous) and a few picture books.  I’m on spring break, so hope to have much reading time this week too.

Rhyming Dust Bunnies – written and illustrated by Jan Thomas
         I can’t imagine anyone not breaking down into hilarious laughter after reading this, where the dust bunnies show the fun part of rhyming, all except Bob, who just cannot seem to get it right.  He does save the day in other ways, however, so all ends up happily, just as it should be.  This could be a good addition for poetry, easy to understand for younger readers, but it’s also a good example of laugh-out-loud silliness.  The illustrations just enhance the story.  They are bright, colorful and full of action! If you think your class needs a good boost of happy, have this book ready!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Memory or Two - 24/31

The March Slice of Life Challenge-
                            Thanks to Ruth and Stacey, at Two Writing Teachers - 24 of 31
      Tweet at #Slice2013
 “Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.”  Chad Sugg

       I’m going to explain one reason I bought my new house:  I love trees!  Oh, I also moved because it was a better location for me in my life right now, but there was this tree.  I knew the place was special when I drove by, and then drove by again, and each time I passed, I really didn’t see a great-looking house, I saw “the” tree. 
       The tree is a native cottonwood, over a hundred years old, and I hope it will continue to flourish.  I am looking forward to making good memories under its shade, and am excited to see how it looks when the buds are liberated.  If you’ve been a faithful reader of my blog, you know this tree; I’ve shared it already in photos in my snowy pictures.  It’s right outside my back door!

Snowy Night-Spring?

The March Slice of Life Challenge-
                            Thanks to Ruth and Stacey, at Two Writing Teachers - 23 of 31
Tweet at #Slice2013

                         It's morning, still snowing.  It seems I should be singing Jingle Bells instead of Tiptoe Through the Tulips.  The following reflects last night's adventure.

 Tiny comets invade the garden.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Poems of Goodbyes - 22/31

           Greg at Gotta Book is hosting Poetry Friday today.  Thanks Greg for all the funny moments on your blog!

The March Slice of Life Challenge-
                            Thanks to Ruth and Stacey, at Two Writing Teachers - 22 of 31
Tweet at #Slice2013

              Round Three of the March Madness Poetry Competition is upon us.  Please go read the fabulous "sweet sixteen" poems, vote for your favorite if you haven't already, and give compliments in the comments to all.  Ed DiCaria is working hard to make the event challenging and KNOWN.  I had fun while I lasted, was excited to be included in the first sixty-four, but alas, disappeared quickly in the first round.  Maybe next year!
I’ve continued to create poems for a personal project that speak of different ways of looking at children (mine, others, and grandchildren, too) growing up.  It is a series of poems at different stages in a life, essentially saying goodbye each time.  I hope to put them together into a book with pictures of my grandchildren (now 11 ½, almost 4, and 18 months) and children at the particular stage I am describing in the poem.  Part of this comes from my talks with my daughter, the children growing and changing so quickly. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Finding Out More - 21 of 31

The March Slice of Life Challenge-
                            Thanks to Ruth and Stacey, at Two Writing Teachers - 21 of 31
Tweet at #Slice2013

          Many of you know that students at our school study individual topics, and that they go on trips outside school with trip teachers to visit sites particular to those topics.  Sometimes that means interviewing an expert in the field.  
            When preparing for trips, one of the challenges is to help students learn how to interview.  I've been asked to work with five seven and eight year old girls to practice their interviewing skills.  They have chosen unit topics that will mean that much of their information will come from interviewing experts.  While they are all gifted readers, much of the topic texts are complex.  Examples of these topics are Bees, Pollination and Colony Collapse; Sensory Integration and Dyslexia; and World War Two Weapons.  

Spring Fills Us Up - Words & Sprouts - 20 of 31

The March Slice of Life Challenge-hosted by Ruth and Stacey, at Two Writing Teachers - 20 of 31
Tweet at #Slice2013

       It's the spring equinox, time for cherry red, buttery yellow, sky blue, grape purple--I'm waiting!  Beautiful crocus are springing up, and suddenly the trees look thicker.  When examined closely, the very beginnings of buds are there, patient, waiting.  In our part of the country, full blooms will take a while longer, while in Texas where my son lives, he says fruit trees are in bloom.  This day I wanted to welcome spring on its inaugural day, no matter if winter snow appears again (predicted this weekend).  There are a number of things that spring to mind.  All the seasons can be used as verbs (if you use 'fall' instead of 'autumn'), yet spring seems to be included in more common idioms or metaphors than the others.  And after today, we can no longer say "spring is just around the corner", because it's here!

         I've been so excited lately peeking outside that I've wanted to spring into action in my new garden.  I realize I am no spring chicken, yet warm weather helps me spring to life.   When ideas for writing spring up, I get a spring in my step and know that hope springs eternal.  I wondered what was going on when I got to work this morning, and had forgotten that it was time for Scholastic to spring forth with hundreds of books for the spring book fair.    Parent Conferences are tomorrow (hope there's no surprises there for students to spring on their parents), so it gives everyone a good chance to spring into action and buy new books.  I wish you all time to be full of the joys of spring today.  
       Don't let new ideas fall into oblivion,  or you will need to wait 'till you summer in a condo.  Overwintering won't help at all.  When you are inspired, be sure that you spring to attention!  

Welcome Spring!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Thirteen Ways - 19 of 31

It's slice 19 of 31 in the March Slice of Life Challenge at Two WritingTeachers.  
       Tweet your post at #slice2013

          Thanks to Wallace Stevens for Thirteen Ways of Looking At A Blackbird

Thirteen Ways of Looking At My Recent Days

My husband has been ill;
there is no thought that travels
without him entering into it.

I visit my old house, wondering
why everything looks different.
It’s invaded by strangers.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

More Reading and a little Slice-18/31

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a kidlit meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTSVisit to find posts about terrific books!  Plus, there is a terrific meme hosted by Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children.  

Don’t forget to tweet at #IMWAYR

And-it’s slice 18 of 31 in the March Slice of Life Challenge at Two WritingTeachers.  Tweet your post at #slice2013
This is what I thought about Hattie:  My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter.  ~Thomas Helm

Hattie Ever After – Kirby Larson

       I took a long time to finish this, but not because I didn’t like it, I just had less time to read.  It’s a wonderful second book about that courageous Hattie character created by Kirby Larson, this time she’s not homesteading, but pushing herself into a new career of newspaper reporting, and in a time when women weren’t welcome, and when they finally did land a job, were given assignments like “best outfits for touring”.  How Hattie gets to San Francisco is a good start to this tale that combines new challenges for Hattie into a tale of women’s courage, mystery and romance.  Kirby’s writing is lovely, using the language of both historians and story-tellers, along with good writers.  I sticky-noted numerous phrases I liked, like this one: “These stories of real people were as irresistible to me as the Italian nougats one of Maude’s suitors had brought her.”  Hattie further says, “I had come to believe that there was something sacred in telling stories and telling them true.” Although this book is fictional, Kirby Larson’s research of the people during that time of the nineteen-eighteen’s, comes to us as real.

Sunday, Sweet Sunday - 17 of 31

The March Slice of Life Challenge-hosted by Ruth and Stacey, at Two Writing Teachers - 17 of 31
Tweet at #Slice2013

For inspiration, a tech way of drawing!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Goodbyes Aren't Easy-16/31

  The March Slice of Life Challenge-hosted by Ruth and Stacey, at Two Writing Teachers - 16 of 31
Tweet at #Slice2013

      My son, daughter-in-law and grandson, Carter (nearly twelve) drove in from Texas a week ago last night for Carter’s spring break, and they drove out to return home in the dawn this morning.  How to say goodbye? 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Poetry Slices and More - 15 of 31

                 Poetry Friday, at Check It Out, hosted by Jone MacCullough this week.  Great poetry ideas there!

The March Slice of Life Challenge-hosted by Ruth and Stacey, at Two Writing Teachers - 15 of 31
Tweet at #Slice2013

       I've been participating in the March Madness Poetry Competition with lots of Poetry Friday friends who've written incredibly wonderful poems in about 36 hours!  I feel honored to be a part of the 64 authletes, and think Ed is amazing to give the time to do this both for all of us 'players' and to promote children's poetry.
      By the time you read this, the "contest" will probably be over and I think I can predict that I won't be moving on, but will lose to a wonderful poet, Renee La Tulippe at No Water River.  If you want to read our poems and those of others, go over to The Scoreboard where you can click on each pair and you'll be able to vote for a while longer on the second tier.
       I've also been trying to practice writing from one word for this contest, and one way to do that is to visit David Harrison's blog where he offers one word each month from which to write.  I thought I'd share today what I wrote for February's word, architecture.  If you're interested, search the site to find the Word of the Month and you'll find the link.  The word for March is snake.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Nature In The Wild - Parking Lots! 14/31

The March Slice of Life Challenge-hosted by Ruth and Stacey, at Two Writing Teachers 14 of 31
Tweet at #Slice2013

        To the back of my school is a berm, and when one travels up and over the berm, there is a wetlands, a stream, and a large park.  It was wilder when the school first arrived at these buildings about 13 years ago, but it is less so now, with smaller wetlands, numerous walking paths, and playgrounds at the other end a few blocks away.  In the earlier years I met one of my students at 7am in the morning to sit on the berm and observe the fox family that lived down 'in the wild'.  There were a few trees growing within the wetlands and hawks sat there looking for their meal tickets.  As a school, we periodically went out into this area and picked up all the trash the wind and people left there.  When we had a good snow, but no snow day, my students brought sleds and we sledded down the berm.  In other words, it was a magically wild place in the midst of a neighborhood and all of us visited often, sketching and writing and observing.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

13 of 31 Madness Poetry today!

 The March Slice of Life Challenge-hosted by Ruth and Stacey, 
at Two Writing Teachers #13 of 31

     Thanks for all the fun, Ruth and Stacey!

Tweet at #Slice2013

            Monday night we were sent our individual words for the March Madness 2013 Poetry Tournament.  Half the authletes got their words, and the other half got them Tuesday evening.  We each have a different word and will be writing a poem over the next 36 hours using that word.  The poems will be posted Wednesday for the first flight of poems (my flight) and Thursday for the second flight of poems..  Please visit and vote for your favorite poems.  Those I'm competing with are some awesome poets, and they include such good writers as Donna from Mainely Write.   I did this last year and had a wonderful time, but it's rather nerve-racking too.  

             I wanted to leave you with a quote about risk-taking, and there were so many I liked that I copied more than one.  It's almost the middle of the month and hopefully you are pleased about some risks, like taking this challenge, or in some of the things you've written.  I can always use some inspiration and thought I'd send some your way too!

Don't refuse to go on an occasional wild goose chase - that's what wild geese are for.  ~Author Unknown

To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily.  To not dare is to lose oneself.  ~Soren Kierkegaard