Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chalking Into Spring

        It's the end of the month, and time for CHALK-A-BRATION, and it's POETRY FRIDAY, all hosted by Betsy at Teaching Young Writers.  Thanks Betsy!

        Again, I used an app on my IPad to draw my "chalk poem".  Spring is finally arriving in Denver, although the mountains have had snow again!  It's our latest spring flowering in a long time, at least that I remember.  I have finally planted some annuals!  I think we're past the possible freezing nights!


Monday, May 27, 2013

Reflections of a Student Trip

              Tuesday Slice of Life is thanks to Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers!  Come visit everyone's posts!

            I am back from the camping trip with this ‘new’ class of nineteen students (one student sadly could not go), the assistant teacher who will be the core teacher next year, the experiential education trip teacher, and one other chaperone.  We camped, did chores, learned how farms become sustainable, heard coyotes in the night, admired the moon and beautiful Mt. Sopris as we went to bed and rose each morning, ate food that was prepared from the farm’s bounty, and used an outhouse. Thursday night we had the pleasure of swimming in a nearby hot springs pool, and Friday, on our way back to Denver, stopped to go ziplining across the Colorado river.  The only way it could have been better was to have been longer. 

a favorite chore-feeding the chickens, turkeys and ducks

              What are the things we value when we travel with our students?  Among those particular to the setting described above, there is also
·           Learning one can manage without adult help to unpack and pack one’s clothes, set up a tent with tent mates, arrange the tent so that each has comfortable and personal space, awaken without waking others and without being crabby.
·           Learning about reflective listening to all group members when working in small groups for common goals.  Conversely, learning about speaking up with a group so that personal ideas and opinions are heard.
·            Meeting time commitments without reminders.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Book Pleasures

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTSHead over to find plenty to choose from!  And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children.   
             Don’t forget to tweet at #IMWAYR

      On this Memorial Day, I wonder how we are approaching books that are about war?  Our elementary-aged children have never known when we were not at war, and that we have military men and women serving for our country in various places all over the world.  Some of our students have parents far away.  It is time to look for books that help all students try to understand, perhaps so they can help find peace in the future. 
      I haven’t read it yet, but want to thank Tara Smith of A Reading Life for sharing about The Breadwinner Trilogy by Deborah Ellis, about the time in Pakistan and Afghanistan with the Taliban and the war, still going on today.  I have the books and look forward to reading them, was happy to hear about them. 
     I hope that we do not forget the sacrifices that have happened, and are happening today because of the conflicts.  My father gave his life in World War II, my stepfather served in several fronts all over the world, as did uncles on all sides of my family.  I am grateful. 


The Pull of Gravity – Gae Polisner
            I am embarrassed that I have not taken the time to read this wonderful book.  It’s been on my TBR shelf a long time.  I enjoyed seeing the main character Nick Gardner learn that he has more strength of character than he thought he had in both the death of a good friend, Scoot, and his parents’ divorce.  With his new friend Jaycee Amato’s persistence, he especially shows that he doesn’t have to keep his feelings stuffed inside, but can act on them.  Through Polisner’s use of both Steinbeck’s and Yoda’s wisdom, these two young teens face some rough challenges, and together, find some good things to be grateful for.  I think that any younger teen will find parts of himself or herself in this book.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Special Week of Reading

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTSHead over to find plenty to choose from!  And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children.  Your lists will increase with these good reviews!

Don’t forget to tweet at #IMWAYR

I won’t be able to respond today as I’m off with a class on their overnight trip camping in the Carbondale, Colorado area.  We’ll be at Sustainable Settings, a terrific farm to learn about sustainable farming, living well and responsibly on the earth!  If you click on the link, you'll see Mt. Sopris, my view as I peek out of my tent each morning!

Last Thursday I reviewed Song of the Water Boatman: & Other Pond Poems by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange

Thursday, May 16, 2013

End of The Year Goodbyes

            Ed DiCaria of March Madness fame, at ThinkKidThink is our host today!  I'm sure it will be a fabulous party!  Thanks Ed!
           I've written earlier about my collection of poems that say goodbye, and as we are now living the final weeks of this school year, It's time for another goodbye poem.  
          When I taught my own class, I either wrote or found a goodbye poem that I copied and laminated to give to students on the last day of school.  Since I am working in a class these final weeks for a teacher who has needed to leave early, I thought I'd do this one more time for this class.  This is a poem I wrote a while ago, but fits well because they will all be leaving this particular class this year, moving into other classes. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How Did I miss This In 2006?

The wonderful book blog, Gathering Books, hosts an Award Winning Book challenge each year.  There are a number of good reasons to visit this blog, and the challenge is only one of them.  Myra, Fats and Iphigene write about books, present new and old favorite books, and wonderful interviews with authors and illustrators from all over the world.

        I recently read the poetry collection Song of the Water Boatman: & Other Pond Poems by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange.  It has garnered the following long list of awards:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Something New and Terrific!

Tuesday Slice of Life is with Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers!  Come read amazing writing!

       I don’t think I’ve told you that a recent “slice” of my life is that I’ve started a writing group with some of my colleagues.  There are eight of us, and we’re having a wonderful time so far.  Because I live so close to school now, we’re meeting at my house, although this summer we’re going to try to go to others’ homes too.  
       Some of us have been reading The Muses Among Us by Kim Stafford for additional inspiration, although we have also strayed into other ideas.  We send our pieces ahead of time so everyone gets a chance to savor and comment before we meet, and that has worked well.  One of the members has a chapter book going and it takes time to read earlier chapters, plus the “new” writing, so it’s good to get a head start.  Others have shorter pieces, but still the time is needed for their response too.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Good Week Reading!

       It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a kidlit meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  There are so many great posts to read, so many good books to discover!
        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

          It was a terrific week of reading finishing a wonderful middle grade book and reading both some books I found at the library that had been recommended by some bloggers here on Monday, and discovering other books from friends.  

Chapter Book:
Hold Fast – written by Blue Balliett
              How can I show off this book enough to have you read it?  Perhaps if you know that I would use the title and write you should “hold fast” to it?  Maybe if you saw how many sticky notes I used marking passages I wanted to re-read?  It is a poignant story of a family who dreamed for a home more than one room, of a man who was both smart and innocent who made a decision for good that was not, of the language “free and plentiful”-threading its way through the story and so, so important. 
           Early Pearl, the main character, is as strong as a young girl can be, keeps her family, and herself, surviving the biggest challenge, homelessness.  We read her thoughts as she looks out a car window, being transported to a shelter: “how lucky the other people in their cars must be: people who knew where their fathers were, people with homes to go to, people who talked and laughed as they drove, people who weren’t scared for their lives.” and “Their cozy one room rental in Woodlawn now seemed luxurious.  Privacy!  The freedom of choosing what and when to eat, of knowing that when you closed your eyes at night, you were safe from strangers!”   Finally, the poetry of Langston Hughes plays a large part in this book, and Early thinks, “How can dreamers hold fast to their dreams when every part of life goes to survival?”  It’s a beautiful book, not to miss!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Sestina for Spring

          Isn't it lovely to be Poetry Friday?  A big thank you to Anastasia Suen, our host today at Booktalking!

         Last Friday, Doraine Bennett at Dori Reads shared about the sestina poetry form, so delightful!  Thanks for reminding me about it, Dori!  I have introduced this form to my students in the past and written a few, so was inspired to try again.  Here is my attempt:

Life’s Questions

In the early hours peace
spreads within like rays of sunshine.
Admiring all things yellow,
I lounge at my window
eating bread, butter, eggs—so satisfying.
I am named “Morning Woman”.

Also lurking here—another woman
who flirts occasionally with both peace
and war, and for her, it is satisfying
only when lemony sunshine
streams through her window,
and color emerges brightest yellow.

Monday, May 6, 2013

May Means Adventure Plans-now and summer, too

It's time for Slice of Life Tuesday, hosted by Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers.

      It's May, the days are longer, and it is warmer, thank goodness!  I am getting ready for several adventures, one even before school ends!
      This year, through unusual circumstances, I've been asked to take over a class of upper intermediate students (mostly 5th-6th grade students).  Their core teacher is taking a new job out of school education and must leave us this early.  He is a wonderful teacher and we will miss him very much.  I am starting to be in his classroom this week for two days, and to do my real job the other three days.  In fact, when I taught the older students, he was the overnight, experiential trip teacher that helped me plan my fall and spring trips.  The very first week I'll be full time with the class is on their overnight, and it is a trip I took several years ago with this teacher and my earlier class.  Circles in life!  And it happens that his assistant was mine before I retired from the classroom.  Circles!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Good reading - Happy Times

           It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a kidlit meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTSThere are so many great posts to read, so many good books to discover!
        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

Goose Lake a year in the life of a lake – by David Harrison, illustrations by Sladjana Vasic
           I’ve had this e-book on my Kindle for a while, and read a poem or two when waiting somewhere, like at an airport, but today I re-read it through from the beginning to the end, as the author says, a year in the life!  I lived on a lake for several years back in Missouri, and loved it, missed it almost as much as my family when we moved to Colorado.  These poems took me there, remembering the turtles, the ducks, the shore birds, the cardinals!  The poem about a cardinal date really touched me because cardinals don’t live in Colorado, our loss!  

Celebrating The Progressive Poem

          On April 1st, the beginning of Poetry Month, Amy Ludwig Vanderwater at The Poem Farm began the journey of this year's poem, the idea of which was started last year by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem.  April Halprin Wayland at Teaching Authors completed the poem and its title!  
       Each morning, I opened the post of the next poet contributing, so exciting!  Here is the complete poem, a celebration of sorts, of the feelings of the writing process.  I believe I would use it for older students to see what metaphor they might use when crafting poems about their own work.  It was a marvelous experience, and I thank Irene for the idea, and fellow writers for their expertise!  You can see who wrote each line at the bottom of the page!
photo credit: Patrick Hoesly via photopin cc

by Thirty Poets in the Kidlitosphere 

When you listen to your footsteps
the words become music and
the rhythm that you’re rapping gets your fingers tapping, too.
Your pen starts dancing across the page
a private pirouette, a solitary samba until
smiling, you’re beguiling as your love comes shining through.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Celebration-my 500th Post!

Poetry Friday can be found at Elizabeth Steinglass-Poet.  She invites us to meet under the willow tree!  Thanks for the party, Liz!

This has been a challenging post to create for Poetry Friday.  I want it to be special, I want to Wow everyone, and I want to share a beautiful poem.  I read poetry all the time, but this week have read more than usual, searching for one that reflects back and yet, I realize there is no “one” set of words that will encompass everything.

This is my FIVE HUNDREDTH POST!  I’ve been blogging for over two years, since March 1, 2011, when I started the thread that has wound through my posts ever since.  I wrote about writing, that time teaching writing, and the topic has been my focus since, all the way through 499 POSTS!

In that first post, I described working with a class in personal narratives, using The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown as a mentor text.  I use it often in numerous lessons.  It is my ‘go to’ book, one I value in both teaching and thinking.  And so I return to it in this 500th post.