Friday, September 26, 2014

Celebrating Getting Away

            Thanks to Ruth Ayres for creating a place to celebrate the little and the big times in our lives.  If you are visiting, check HERE for the links. 
Don't forget to tweet at #CelebrateLu

          Michelle H. Barnes, at Today's Little Ditty sometimes asks for five words in response to something. Last spring, the question was what does poetry mean to you. I replied with

                                          A poet’s words linger longer…

the cabins where I'll stay
          Poetry does mean much to me, and today I'm celebrating taking the next week off, from work, mostly from online things (I'll have my computer.) in order to go to a poetry workshop with David L. Harrison, poet extraordinaire, website here, at the Highlights Foundation retreat near Honesdale, Pennsylvania. It's my second time, and I plan to write and write and enjoy the beautiful autumn that I know is waiting. I leave Sunday and am so, so excited. I'm celebrating that I am able to go, that my school supports this, and that I have the beautiful chance to work with David and the rest of the writers who will be there, from all over the US and Canada.

       More to come next time! It was a good week all the way through, ending with Ingrid coming home with me after school on Friday, ever a joy.

        I hope you all have a terrific week next week!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Poetry Friday - Still Celebrating Wandering Wildebeests

            Laura Purdie Salas is hosting us today for Poetry Friday. Find her, and the links to everyone's poetry shares at Writing The World for Kids. Thanks, Laura!
              Next Wednesday, Oct. 1st, Irene Latham's Dear Wandering Wildebeest, And Other Poems from the Water Hole will celebrate its two month anniversary. I'd like to refresh your memory about this wonderful collection, to be sure that you've read it, and if not, you'll run out to purchase a copy!
             It's a pleasure to find poetry I love, and it's additionally wonderful when there is one that I can share with children when I teach poetry at school. And this one, a poetic response to a particularly special habitat by Irene and illustrated by Anna Wadham, is one I know I will use again and again. This year I'm especially fortunate to have one young class studying habitats for their class units. They are our youngest students, but they know about zoo animals, and Rocky mountain animals because we have a great zoo in Denver, and the Rockies are "their" habitat, too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Non-Fiction Treasures

             Visit Alyson Beecher to discover favorite non-fiction picture books every Wednesday on her blog, KidLit Frenzy.  There's a wealth of non-fiction picture books that can be found on everyone's posts!  Thanks for hosting, Alyson!

 The Right Word - Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet

I've been waiting for this book since I first read about it, and in the past few days, reading it more than once. What a treasure it is, like these creative artists' other collaboration, A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, this book celebrates a life filled with a love of words. It's interesting that both men were doctors.

 The Right Word fills us with the words Peter Roget loved, from the first Latin ones he learned from a tutor, to the pages in his first published book. Even the inside covers are filled with WORDS! A favorite page is when Jen tells of Roget finally falling in love, at age forty-five, and she lists the words: amour, love, smitten, marriage, husband, wife, family, and on. Each word of course in the thesaurus leads to other lists. 

 They tell us that the word "thesaurus" means "Treasure House" in Greek, and the book is certainly a treasure to read and to pore over.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Slicing Can Be Loud!

             Time for the Tuesday Slice of Life Sharing at the Two Writing Teachers blog. Thanks to the wonderful group of bloggers who host us, and those who share what's going on in their own personal or professional lives.

            It's Banned Book Week, although I hope everyone really celebrates that we are free to read whatever we wish anytime we wish. I just finished Revolution by Deborah Wiles, a time when more than books were taken away from many in our country. And in the past month, we watched as terrible things occurred in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, years after the Civil Rights era. Also, the news today is that even more refugees from Syria are pouring in to Turkey, their villages burned by this group named ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It is also the Egyptian Goddess of Fertility. How do I know, because a student of mine spent a year studying the gods created by other cultures, and while I couldn't quite remember all of it, I did remember ISIS was a god from some country. I'm glad it has another meaning. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Monday - Books to Love!

             Sheila at Book Journeys started It's Monday! What are you Reading?, a meme where bloggers share the books read recently. Then, Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts and Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers, started one with a children's focus. Come join in to share your own reading!
I'm also excited to visit at Michelle Barnes Today's Little Ditty with a poem of address I wrote for Irene Latham's September challenge. Come visit!

And-it's Banned Book Week-Are you reading as many banned books (or sharing them) as you can?
Revolution – written by Deborah Wiles

             Considering what recently occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, it saddened me to read this book about Freedom Summer, the history of the months during which the Civil Rights Act passed, 50 years ago, and the Voting Rights Act, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.  In these 50 years, some things have still not changed.
           The voice of 12-year-old Sunny who tells this story of her time in Greenwood, Mississippi, weaves in family conflicts, grief over her abandonment by her mother, figuring out the family dynamics when her father re-marries, and hard questions about the racial conflict. She often says she doesn’t understand. She often asks why everything can’t just go back to the way it was. The first might is a question we all should ask; the second shows the way so many children grew up, blind to the inequities surrounding them. Wiles intersperses the fiction with real-life photographs and news, cementing this “made-up” story with a firm under-pinning of truth. I was mesmerized and horrified, all at the same time.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


               Thanks to Ruth Ayres for creating a place to celebrate the little and the big times in our lives.  If you are visiting, check HERE for the links. 
And tweet at #CelebrateLu

           The biggest news to celebrate is that the BC teachers's strike has ended and  Carrie Gelson of There's A Book For That; and Adrienne Gear of Reading Power Gear go back to work on Monday! Hurrah!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Poetry Friday-exciting week

         Amy Ludwig VanDerwater hosts us today at her wonderful blog, The Poem Farm for Poetry Friday, our last of summer shares.  Thanks to Amy, we enjoy poetry every season!  Today, she has a "poem hug" for all of us. 

       Time for Cybils' announcements this week! You can find the lists of judges in each category here on the Cybils' website. I'm very excited to return to the Round Two Judging for poetry.  I'm researching books that have been published this year, and already own some.  Below, see those I'm working alongside.  What a great time it will be, except for finally having to choose just one winner!

       Remember that nominations begin October 1st!  It's also a great source for discovering extraordinary titles if you look at the list of previous winners in ALL the categories and the new nominations for this year.  It's a terrific time to be a blogger and/or a children's writer.

        Time to say goodbye to summer this weekend, and also to the little moments, just fun. Sitting on a back stoop blowing bubbles with children is one of those.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Journaling With Non-Fiction

              Visit Alyson Beecher to discover favorite non-fiction picture books every Wednesday on her blog, KidLit Frenzy.  Amazing picture books are shared!

           Every one of our students at school keeps a field journal, so we're always looking for good mentor texts to share with them, to give them ideas from others who keep their own journals. The other part is to learn what to look for, why to capture it, what details to note in words and sketches? Of course those younger students do all of their notes in pictures, or by carefully copying down a few words. Slowly everyone improves their noticing. It's a great thing to practice, and then to know one is improving.

Too Much of This, Not Enough of That


            Some days seem longer than others. I've spent some of the past few days doing things, not things I want to do, things I have to do, need to do, call for me to do. This is a bit of a whiney post because I am tired of that list on one particular pad of paper in my office, ugh, THE LIST. 
from my calendar,
writing of some days,
           And this is what is crossed off: 
  • Car repair, which ended in two new tires, leaving the car over the weekend, and finally, finally getting it done. I am grateful for a terrific local garage, that my old Honda still goes and goes, but don't like the time it takes.
  • My regular doctor is retiring, so I spent several hours this am calling a new doctor (recommended!), ensuring that they are taking new patients, then calling my insurance (on hold a long time) to make the name change and order a new card.
  • Online (did you know?) I filled out a passport renewal application, went to Walgreen's to get my picture, to the PO to send it special so I could track it (long line).
  • Late afternoon: my furnace repair person came to inspect my boiler, tinkered a bit, called it good (whew), but that was another couple of hours while I waited, asked questions, etc..

           But, I did get some good writing time in between all these other things. And I did do some fun prep work for school. Also I had a little special time with my daughter on Sunday. It really wasn't a terrible weekend, I just resist these kinds of chores. 
           I would much rather go walking and take some pictures of things I loved seeing. I've been trying to post a few photos from a "Morning Walk". Here are a few of my favorites.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Monday Reading

 Sheila at Book Journeys started It's Monday! What are you Reading?, a meme where bloggers share the books read recently. Then, Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts and Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers, started one with a children's focus. Come share your own reading!

Lots of terrific picture books this week, including a longer chapter book with pictures! I'm almost done with Revolution by Deborah Wiles; what a great read it is!  Next: Finish Revolution, then I have so many to catch up on. Probably will start The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson-still not read!

        I reviewed a new poetry collection by J. Patrick Lewis last Friday for Poetry Friday. If you need a new collection for your classroom, I suggest you find Everything Is A Poem.

          Summer camp isn’t what her mother  loved, in fact, it’s what Eleanor hates, but as the days move along, and she keeps doing the activities she thinks she dislikes, she has a few surprises. It’s a story with a few hard remarks in the beginning, but Eleanor has a good friend almost immediately which helps, and the camp counselor is supportive no matter what. It’s a sweet story of doing something hard, and discovering that you can do  those hard things.

             An injured magpie and a one-eyed dog have created a mutually helpful relationship, but a jealous fox comes along to prey on their inner wishes. Sadly, it's a story that teaches the parable, "be careful what you wish for" and the bird and the dog lose much more than they gained. There is some hope left at the end, but this is a story that's for older students, to pore over the fascinating illustrations that seem to come alive, and to ponder the actions and choices made.

Poetry Apps for Exploring

Margaret Gibson at Reflections on The Teche invites others to share some of the technology they find that could be useful, in and out of the classroom. This Sunday, I'm sharing some IPad (or IPhone) apps that can be fun for poetry.
It's Digilit Sunday!

Poetry Creator - free, but extra $ for more dictionaries. Has a white board arrangement for placing words. Can share via Facebook, photos or can e-mail.  Fun for exploring.

Poet for IPad - Will keep and organize your poems, offers a rhyming and a synonym dictionary. Can share. 

RhymeNow Free - a rhyming dictionary easy to use.

If - my favorite app for finding wonderful poems, just for reading, but the presentation is wonderful.

Writing Prompts, by -lots of ways to start a new idea, words & pictures! If you want to explore, this is a good one!

           I realize there are many others that might be favorites. Sometimes I'll start something on one of these, then move to a writing app with more room.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


               Thank you Ruth for hosting us every Saturday while we share our Celebrations. It's such fun to anticipate each Saturday. If you are visiting, check HERE for the links. 
And tweet at #CelebrateLu

            It's been a lovely week, starting with spending the day with Ingrid last Sunday. Since starting kindergarten, she seems to want some quiet play at home on the weekend, and this time at my home. It was a pleasure, and we did fit in a trip to the library for a few books!

            My week at work was terrific. The book group reading A Separate Peace finished, with good conversation again about the book. And I began meeting teachers a little more regularly. Because teachers write a unit of study with their students' input, at least begin the process, these past two days were spent at school without students so that teachers can get a head start in the work to be done. Step by step the school work begins. Talking about the non-fiction research involved, the different genres of writing that can be included as products, like fiction stories, takes time, thought, knowledge, and adding to our knowledge through our own research. These two days are terrific, not enough, but a big help for planning, whether alone or in collaboration.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Celebrating A New Book of Poetry

                It's September 12th, and more than a week until autumn officially arrives, but a dust of snow is on the way! No, I'm not going to share a snow poem, but just wanted to share that cooler weather is coming, time for the poems of falling leaves, crisp air, apples, and wool sweaters. And it also means a bit more time for reading poetry!
               Today for Poetry Friday, Renée LaTulippe is our host at her blog, No Water River. Thanks Renée!  While we might be nostalgic for our summers, Renée is sharing her nostalgia for her young boys, starting pre-school for the very first time. Be sure to see how she's written about them!

          Although I do purchase numerous books of poetry, and search used bookstores for them, too, I'm not sure I can ever find all of the books that have been published by J. Patrick Lewis. So when I saw that there was a new book of his that has gathered many of the poems he has written, I knew that was a good one to buy. And it is! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Non-Fiction to Savor

Alyson Beecher invites bloggers to share their favorite non-fiction picture books every Wednesday on her blog, KidLit Frenzy. I am amazed week after week that the non-fiction available is so wonderful.

Colors of the Wind, The Story of Blind Artist and Champion Runner George Mendoza- written by J. L. Powers with paintings by George Mendoza               This is a person I've never heard of and should have, a talented man who used his passion to succeed, and he happens to be blind. George was born sighted but at age 15, he started going blind, struck with a rare disease that gives him some peripheral vision, but also sees things that aren't there, bright swirling lights, colors, floating eyes, etc. For a time, he concentrated on running, his other passion, and ran in the Olympics twice! He holds the mile record for blind runners. One person's advice changed his path and George began painting "what he sees". Filled with bright color, the book shows numerous paintings of George's in all their mesmerizing brightness. It's an inspiring story of doing the things one loves despite the obstacles. It belongs in the group of many wonderful biographies being published for younger readers in picture book form.
          The publisher provided my copy of this book, which was published September 1st.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Slices of Learning Take Time

            Time for the Tuesday Slice of Life Sharing at the Two Writing Teachers blog. Thanks to a wonderful group of bloggers who host us, many share what's going on in their own personal or professional lives.
           I took pictures of our school garden last week,  to share them with you, and to share the learning that happens for those students who choose to take the gardening class. Last spring, they planted and nurtured. This fall they will continue to care for, then harvest.  Within this one project lives a wealth of learning.  
          We have the pleasure of two wonderful parent volunteers who teach this class, and spend hours of their time working in the garden. The amazing thing, too, is that their children have long continued from our school, and yet, they stay, to add their own special way of teaching new students how to grow numerous kinds of things in the garden, how to care for, then harvest, preserve and/or cook the crops.
           It didn't happen easily, but a large part of any project begins with planning, and first, a group of students years ago planned the layout in a space given to them. Yes, they had help building and bringing in the soil, but as in all projects, much learning took place. I don't want this post to be too long, so thought I'd brainstorm just the actions that happen during the gardening learning. It's like any project where an end is sought, and includes PATIENCE AND TIME.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

It's Monday Reading!

               Sheila at Book Journeys started It's Monday! What are you Reading?, a meme where bloggers share the books read recently. Then, Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts and Ricki and Kellee at Unleashing Readers, started one with a children's focus. Come join in to share your own reading!

Brown Girl Dreaming - written by Jacqueline Woodson
            I'm not surprised that I loved this book. So many have talked about it weeks before if was published just last week. It's a trip in my own memories, growing up in Missouri, a small town where the dust wasn't red, but still squashed softly between our toes in the summer.  Sitting on that porch, listening to stories is what touched me, too, and although I'm not a published writer, I remember well when a teacher told me I was a writer as Jacqueline's teachers told her. I wonder how many young people will, at least secretly, thrill to the stories of Jacqueline and her thoughts about being a writer?It's filled with memorable moments, moving to South Carolina along with moving to New York, changing what home meant and didn't mean. My favorite part as an example of such beautiful writing is early in the book when she wrote about ribbons that were tied in her and her sister's hair. They felt they were too old for them, but faithfully washed them out every night and hung them on the clothesline to dry. She writes they were "gently moving in the air, eager to anchor us to childhood."  Jacqueline Woodson tells her story well for young students to read.

Collage Creations

Margaret Gibson at Reflections on The Teche invites others to share some of the technology they find that could be useful, in and out of the classroom. I haven't shared in a few weeks, but always like reading what others share so I can learn about new ways others are using technology.
It's Digilit Sunday!
            I love making picture collages, have one as my desktop picture, have created them as gifts, and use them on my blog. In May, here, I shared Kizoa, an app that includes movement and sound. It's great, too.  Yet, I'm always looking for something easy and free to create a different look. A more recent app that I've used is Fotor, also user friendly, and it has good options for the look of the collage. It is also a photo editor, and has been much fun to play with using different photo topics. Here are a few examples using some shadow pictures.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Two Weeks-Good Stuff

            Thanks to Ruth Ayres, we also get to share our celebrations with others every Saturday. Check HERE for the links. And tweet at #CelebrateLu

The celebration of beauty is an invitation to ask your soul everyday, 'mind if I join you'

I didn't post last week because...
I was celebrating:

School started, and so did my granddaughter Ingrid
 in kindergarten at my school.
Her little sister Imogene came along to see her off!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thoughts That Stay

           Thanks to Laura Shovan, we do more with poetry! She offers thoughtful challenges for poetry creation and contemplation often, and today shares another of her book/poem connections. along with hosting Poetry Friday at her blog, Author Amok. Come visit for a day filled with poetry! And be sure to thank Laura for managing all of us! 
            This post seems particularly apt for Poetry Friday because it's about the spoken word, and poetry is meant to be spoken. Some believe that our everyday interactions create the poetry of our lives. I enjoy the idea a lot.            

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Non-Fiction Poetry

  Alyson Beecher welcomes bloggers to share their favorite non-fiction picture books every Wednesday on her blog, KidLit Frenzy. I hope you enjoy all the posts, and learn about the beautiful non-fiction available today.

     America at War, poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Stephen Alcorn