Saturday, June 29, 2013

Chalking With Betsy-Goodbye June!

      Come join Betsy at Teaching Young Writers for her end-of-the-month Chalkabration!  Just chalk a poem, outside, inside, or use a chalkboard app as I have to share your poem.  Hope to see many of you visit Betsy!

Here's mine, via the app, Chalkboard!

                                                                                              ©Linda Baie, all rights reserved

Friday, June 28, 2013

Blog Launch-Celebrate Unleashing Readers!

        It’s Launch Week!  I’m here to celebrate a new blog, Unleashing Readers, created by Kellee Moye and Ricki Ginsberg.  They have such great plans for us readers:  to have a varied literature focus, helping teachers find books for specific purposes in the classroom.  As the blog adds information, it will be easy to search for exact needs, to find helpful ideas for a variety of goals.  Today, I’m going to add my thoughts in the categories Unleashing Readers will share with their readers in the future.  One thing you need to know is that I taught gifted middle school students in a mixed classroom of 11 to 14 year olds.  I now am the literacy coach in the school, but today will focus only on my experience with the middle-schoolers.
          Since we’re doing favorites today, I’ll also share a favorite reading quote:

        I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.
                                                                          ~ Anna Quindlen

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Poetry Discovery With Children

            We’ve been invited to ThePoem Farm for Poetry Friday, hosted by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, author of the recently published gorgeous poetry book, Forest Has A Song!  Thank you, Amy!

            I had another post nearly ready and then my four-year-old granddaughter spent time with me this week, and I heard her create beautifully musical songs when we drove to different places.  Although often her words are nonsensical, her parents have sung and played enough music for her that she seems to know innately that poem-songs have rhythm and rhyme.  The happy tone I heard certainly was a bit magical. 
       Later, in another magical moment, we walked around my new garden/back yard and picked flowers she chose to take home.  She said, “these colors just fill my heart, Grandma.”   Now, I tell lots of grandchildren stories, and like all grandmothers, I think mine are good, and I hope they bring cheer to those who don’t have the chance to spend time with young children.  And this was just a lovely thing that happened.  I shared with her parents and thought no more about it.
        But then, Thursday morning, I received the online articles from Orion magazine, and one is worth reading for those of us who work and write for and with children.  

Monday, June 24, 2013

Finding The Right Word for All Write!

          The Slice of Life on Tuesday is hosted by Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz at their blog, Two Writing Teachers!  Thanks to these creative women, there is a community of writers who write so we may read and savor.  Join us!
      And tweet at #slice2013

          I flew to Indiana last week to attend the All-Write conference.  People who asked where I was from were surprised that I had come all the way from Colorado.  How could I not do this?  And I was excited to go.  It was, it was (I have to find the right word!) comfortable.  Have you bought a chair or sofa lately?  How many pairs of shoes do you try on before selecting the one pair that feels like it’s already been a favorite for a while? Have you gone to dinner with friends, and begun the talking before you’ve even been seated?  Have you created an old and favorite recipe?  Do you ever re-read favorite books, or keep poems that feel so right?   A few weeks ago, I spent a day with a long-time friend who lives far away.  We are fortunate if we get to see one another once a year, and sometimes it’s more like five years.  Yet when we are together, we fall into our own old friend language, that one that takes years to understand, the perfect ‘ear’ for each other. 
         I hope now you realize what I feel about the All-Write Conference where everyone was simply—and wonderfully—comfortable.  I was welcomed with hugs from the minute I pulled my luggage up to the check-in counter at the Wyndham Hotel.  Here they all were:  Ruth, Mary Helen, Betsy, Christy, Ramona, Elsie, Deb Gaby, Robin, Nancy, Bonnie.  How can those I’ve known for such a short while feel comfortable?  Because of our words over these past years, the words we’ve shared through our blog posts and through twitter (although I don’t do as much tweeting as I’d like).  And later, at dinner, there were more I knew (see Ruth Ayres’ post about the dinner here.)  Also, in the sessions, it seemed like old friends, again from posts and books and articles-words I valued, words I believed in.  Will you imagine what sharing words within a classroom can mean to that community?  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Good Books Even at Home!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  Head over for terrific book reviews!  And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children. 
              Tweet at #IMWAYR

The Center of Everything – by Linda Urban
              Ruby Pepperdine, the “center” of this story, is a quiet young woman who has a strong desire to do the right thing.  She does what her mother wants, helps her aunt, and always does what her best friend Lucy wants.  But then she won the “Bunning Day Essay Contest” and that was not expected, by anyone.  Ruby begins to think that what she is “supposed to do” might be questioned.  The book is intriguing and sweet, about relationships and questioning what people say are the “rules” of behavior.  I can’t say more, but the book weaves in and out of real time, which is THE Bunning day when Ruby is to give her speech, and she is standing in a taped square on Cornelius Circle, waiting.  As Ruby waits, she thinks of past events, thus the whole story is told, in and out of the past.  I enjoyed the book, and the other characters, Ruby’s friends.  It is complex enough that it may make a good read aloud.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Traveling Poetry Friday

Thanks to Carol at Carol's Corner for being our host this week!

          It's very late, but I wanted to share a poem about this week, and what it's meant to me.  I am at the All Write Conference in Warsaw, Indiana, seeing amazing people present, meeting all, ALL those with whom I'm written for over two years now--Ruth, Stacey, Mary Helen, Amy, Bonnie, Christy, Deb G., Karen, Katherine, Ramona and Nancy. And meeting new people too, connecting because we are interested in being better educators.  It's been a marvelous day and there's one more to go!

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Little Bit of Peter H. Johnston

Tuesday Slice of Life is hosted by Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers.  Come enjoy all the summer slices!

     “Language is the essential condition of knowing, the process by which experience becomes knowledge.”  Michael Halliday

         With my book sharing buddy and colleague, I attended a workshop last Thursday to listen to Peter H. Johnston talk about his latest discoveries about how using language precisely can make huge differences in students' ability to learn and trust, and just feel so comfortable in their skins.  It was an exhilarating day of some table talk, but mostly listening to this author of Choice Words and Opening Minds.  We spent much of the day enjoying parts of Peter's stories from Opening Minds and our own conversations as we applied the questions and ideas to our individual experiences.  I’ll share some of the highlights I thought important.  As I re-read this second book, I may add more another time.

       Early in the book, Peter writes:  “My intention with this book is to offer a basis for choosing more productive talk—how to make the most of these opportunities children offer us.” 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Some Treasures This Week!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  Head over for some awesome book reviews!  And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children. 
              Tweet at #IMWAYR

             It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  Head over for terrific book reviews!  And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children. 
              Tweet at #IMWAYR

Pug and Other Animal Poems – poems by Valerie Worth, illustrated by Steve Jenkins
         I’m so envious of Steve Jenkin’s collage talents.  The illustrations amaze.  When examining the details, I always want to see his studio, with the unimaginable patterned and textured papers he must have.  This book of 18 of Valerie Worth’s poems both informs and entertains.  From learning of the MIA life of a fox to the interesting “home” of a toad Steve Jenkins, each of the poems show that Worth certainly knew what she was writing about. Having numerous rabbits in my new garden, a favorite is the poem titled “Rabbits.”   In it, Worth.   She speaks of rabbits staying ‘along the/Grassy fringe/ unhastily, in peaceful thought, it seeks.  I realize many have read this book, so for those you haven’t, please check it out.  It’s a perfect example of the creative way to use non-fiction research.                            

Picture Books
         I won this book, The Great Lollipop Caper, written and illustrated by Dan Krall, and am so happy I did!  Who would have ever imagined that capers could become a great storyline, but in this book, they are.  After figuring out that lollipops seem to be loved by children the world over, Mr. Caper want in on the action too, because he feels so ignored.  The “lollipop caper” plan is hatched, but the plans unfortunately do not turn out as expected.  The illustrations are funny, cartoon-like with speech bubbles and outrageous expressions that must make the audience giggle and giggle.  I can’t wait to read this to a class of younger children in the fall to see their reactions.  It will also begin a good discussion for the start of the year about feelings and solving problems in positive ways. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Workshop Takeaway

 Thanks to Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for hosting Poetry Friday.  Read her wonderful post about writing camp and the ekphrastic poetry written during writing marathon.  Then check out all the other posts linking up!

          A quote from my experience Thursday:  Language is the essential condition of knowing, the process by which experience becomes knowledge.         Michael Halliday

        In a workshop Thursday, A colleague and I enjoyed listening to Peter Johnston, educator and author of Choice Words. Through examining his recent book, Opening Minds, he created a day of conversation about words, the way we use them as we speak with students/family/friends.  It was an educator’s day, yet also one of conversation about good ways to live one’s life.    Some of Peter’s philosophy reminded me of that of Haim Ginott, a psychologist of years ago whose books and influences live on.      

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer Time - #Cyber PD Time!

      I'm excited to link up with Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine: Building A Learning Community, Laura Komos at Our Camp Read-A-Lot, and Jill Fisch at My Primary Passion are hosting #CyberPD.  We'll share our plans for reading Professional Development books, and then Cathy, Laura and Jill will choose one for us to read together in July.  

Monday, June 10, 2013

Commenting Can Mean Teaching

Slice of Life Tuesdays are hosted by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers.  Come see!

Tweet at #slice2013

      I’ve described in other posts that the students at my school each study an individual topic, called units of study.  Activities within the units include creative writing like fiction and poetry, along with communication of questions answered through research and multiple kinds of reporting.   Sometimes the “answers” are three-dimensional projects and numerous other kinds of responses.  Students also create magazines, newspapers and pamphlet for topics, along with the expected basic reports.  

        The teachers with whom I work and I have spent time talking about the challenges of evaluating the “answers” students turn in.  There are a number of ways to do this, but one that is a critical question for the teachers is how to save time because one on one conferences about everything is simply not possible.  Particularly in the upper age groups, there are so many products for teachers to evaluate.  One approach that helped me both teach and save time is the way I comment on the products, and keep track of them.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Only One-But Terrific!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  Head over for terrific book reviews!  And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children. 
              Tweet at #IMWAYR

 I loved And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead, and now these two have published another marvelous and sweet book. This book is about patience, but watching for whales might not be the only thing one needs to wait (and watch) for. The young boy and his dog see many things on their journey of looking for a whale. There are whimsical, yet simple illustrations, a surprise on every page to delight the youngest children, in addition to serving as a mentor text to see what "other" things can complete the phrase "If you want to see..."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer Reading - Poetry!

          Tabatha Yeatts is our wonderful host this Poetry Friday at The Opposite of Indifference. Thank you Tabatha!

             I’ve read a few posts that are asking others to share their plans for summer reading, and I have stacks of choices waiting for me.  There are the YA books, the adult books, the picture books and the mysteries I’ll take to the beach, along with some e-books downloaded on my IPad.  There is a stack of children’s poetry books waiting.  I am looking forward to several days of non-stop reading as much as possible. 
            Today I’d like to recommend the anthology The Place My Words Are Looking For : What Poets Say About and Through Their Work, selected by Paul B. Janeczko and published in 1990.  It is a favorite of mine that I’ve used for several years with my middle school students, although I believe that, selected carefully, it could be used for a variety of ages.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

I Could Write...

          Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers host the Slice of Life community each Tuesday.  Read and enjoy!

I could write about...
        The marvelous time I've had with my former assistant as my co-teacher this past month, until the end of school-this week!  He will be taking this new position next year, so I will then begin working with him as a coach.  He will be/already is a terrific teacher and I've been blessed to have this chance to work together one more time with him.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Some New, Some Older This Week

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTSHead over for much to choose from!  And, also visit Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers more reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children. 
              Tweet at #IMWAYR

Almost HomeJoan Bauer
           I just finished Blue Balliett’s Hold Fast, and have read One for The Murphy’s by Linda Mullahy Hunt, a favorite last year.  This book by Joan Bauer is another treasure about being homeless, so much to share about the feelings and experiences one has that I hadn’t thought about.  When Sugar, the main character, is told to “go out there and set the world on fire”, she replies, “Yes, ma’am, I will.”  but further thoughts reveal more: “Every time she said it, I felt a little candle trying to light in my heart.  It’s hard to light a candle in the wind.”  The book is filled with exquisite scenes, as Sugar makes her way through her troubled time, and thank goodness, finally in a loving foster home setting.  There is so much to enjoy in this book despite the underlying sorrow.  There is a loving and smart mother who can’t seem to make good choices and a passed-on grandfather who has written a book of ‘how-to’ live life.  Grandfather’s book Bauer creates, and shares parts of, could be a little book of advice for anyone, but this time, the words are what Sugar clings to as she faces so many challenges.  It’s a terrific read!