Sunday, May 31, 2015

It's Monday-time for summer books!

"Reading gives us a place to go when we have to stay where we are."

           Link up with Jen at TeachMentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders. and Sheila at Book Journeys.  Come visit, and tweet at #IMWAYR. Thanks to Jen, Kellee, and Ricki for hosting!

Courage - written and illustrated by Bernard Waber
          This could be a good book to start conversations about courage and what that means to each one in a classroom, including the teacher. Speaking from different viewpoints, human and animal, Waber's story is a succession of kinds of courage, some in the mind, some physical, and some in the heart. The illustrations are cartoon-like, small pictures by each sentence. For instance, there is a couple of boys, with one tapping the shoulder of another. The caption is "Courage is being the first to make up after an argument." Another example is a dark drawing, with only alarming looking eyes showing: "Courage is going to be without a nightlight." This is not for the very young. I'm not sure they would understand it. Perhaps middle grades only would enjoy it, and perhaps they could create their own illustrated picture of what courage means to them? 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Filled Up

              Celebrating Each Saturday with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build. It's a good time to read about everyone's celebrations! Come join us!                      Tweet at #CelebrateLu

       No week is perfect, and this one was not. Some tough moments began the week, and it was only four days, but oh so filled!

       There are some moments to celebrate, and I do. 

        Tuesday evening I spent time with a former colleague at her husband's start of his marvelous book tour. He's been writing for a long time, has published several books, but this latest seems bigger somehow. He's touring in bigger cities, there was a huge crowd, etc. And it was lovely to see my old friend with whom I taught. The author is Paolo Bacigalupi and his book is The Water Knife. You might know his YA book, Shipbreaker, and others by him. It was terrific to discover another colleague came, so we sat together, then during the question period I heard a familiar voice, one of my students. She is a young woman avidly writing a novel, come to see a writer, and ask how he started! I am so proud of her for standing up in a crowd of adults and asking a question she wanted to know. Paolo gave her lots of advice!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Considering A Leaf in May

        That final Poetry Friday in May is hosted by Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. It seems like a good time to celebrate summer, ready for those glorious days of color-filled June. Margaret talks of ideas growing, and I have had the pleasure of adding to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Kimberley Moran's idea of adding ideas for summer notebooks. You can find the collection kickoff here
         Thanks for hosting, Margaret.

         Nikki Grimes has challenged everyone at Michelle Barnes' Today's Little Ditty to try a wordplay exercise this month, to write a free verse poems per one word from the word list given. Click HERE for all the details.
          I do love Michelle's challenges, and am late writing, but did manage one this week.  

Leaf Maps

Consider the veins:
tiniest of lines,
road map of leafy highways,
echoing the plant’s branches -
drinking long,
creating beauty,
glorious green energy
to send back down the road.
Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

Monday, May 25, 2015

Savoring My OLW

          Slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community is a pleasure every week.  Thanks for all you do Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Beth and Anna!

         I noticed that a few days ago, the Two Writing Teachers asked about our One Little Word. In these busy, busy final weeks of school, the special slice of life that means I'm living my OLW-paint, is when I get out the paints and take a little while for something I love to do. It refreshes, takes away all the worries of THE LIST that grows longer every week. Here's a sample of one I've done of a favorite spring flower, those beautiful bleeding hearts. Hope your days are all going as well as they can, and your OLW is a treasure to you. For those of you who are finished with your school years, Happy Summer!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

It's Monday - More Good Books!

           Link up with Jen at TeachMentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders. and Sheila at Book Journeys.  Come visit, and tweet at #IMWAYR. Thanks to Jen, Kellee, and Ricki for hosting!

      This first book was in the top ten of the best fiction books of 2013, thus meeting the award challenge from Myra, Iphigene and Fats at the blog, Gathering Books.

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, The Blue Death, And A Boy Called Eel - written by Deborah Hopkinson
              Deborah Hopkinson has interwoven her story of Eel, a thirteen-year-old homeless boy, a “riverfinder”, into the true story of Dr. John Snow’s discovery in the mid 1800’s that cholera is a water-borne disease. It is a middle-grade book and the plot events happening to the young people in the story seems fanciful, yet I enjoyed it as it also told of this terrible time when most people thought the “blue death” came from air, the horrible miasma from unclean and close living, mostly in poorer areas of big cities. “Riverfinders” were both adults and children on the streets, smelly and filthy because they earned what pennies they could by going through the muck by the river to find the few things, like pieces of coal, they could sell.  They slept where they found a place that seemed safe; earned it or fought for it. What a life! Eel’s life took different turns in the story. Luckily for him, he had gone to school for a while before both his parents died. He knew how to read and write! In this story, he ends up working as Dr. Snow’s assistant, and it turns out to be helpful to Dr. Snow and to Eel’s life. You’ll need to read the book to discover more about London at this time, and the brief few days when cholera struck and killed over 600 people. Middle grade students will enjoy the intrigue and the setting very much.

Goodbye Stranger - written by Rebecca Stead

           Thanks to Net Galley for allowing me to read this book before the actual publication, August 5th! As I think about how to review this book by Rebecca Stead, I first wonder about the title of multiple meanings. Can it be that Stead has written a book that as the reader reads, the characters are no longer strangers, to the reader, to their friends (and frenemies, too) and most important, to themselves. It’s definitely a growing up book, with alternating voices of Bridge and Sherm as well as a stranger who jumps in once in a while with her (his?) own adventure. We don’t discover the ‘who’ until almost the end. All the parts of growing up today are there, like social media problems; and quite a bit is there that has always been, young teen friends changing in different ways, divorce adding to some problems and finding out what kind of person one is adding to other challenges. It’s a mixed-up story like all of Stead’s books, compelling because one is lead on by the story structure of mystery and the authentic voices of the characters, growing up with friends, leaving old friends behind. One voice asks: “Is the new you the stranger? Or is the stranger the person you leave behind?” 

Art Digitally

Margaret Simon of Reflections on The Teche is offering this challenge today on Digilit Sunday: 

Challenge this week: Turn an image of nature into a work of art: #photoart

Visit her post to see her sharing and all the others who are linking up!

         My favorite is still Skitch, connected to Evernote, ease of use, can alter in multiple ways. Here's an old spring poem:

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Quickly Goes The Year

                 Celebrating Each Saturday with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build. It's a great time to welcome Saturday and this much needed holiday weekend! Come join us! Tweet at #CelebrateLu

        We were awash in final work this week. The uncommon and constant rainy days fits well the times of the last weeks of school. This week filled with creating a trip bulletin board which every class does, leaving them for summer visitors, and one more visit in the fall till new ideas and new classes take over. Students also worked on both class and math portfolios, final unit projects, visiting our buddies, staying afloat when all most wanted was to have summer, vacation and sunny weather, arrive.
         I celebrate that we did accomplish a lot of work during the week, only small colds were evident, and our own very fun time came yesterday with the arrival of yearbooks. We have seven and a half days left, filled with work and activities and parties, memory days! Congratulations to those of you are now finished, and best wishes to everyone who still have weeks to go!

        Celebrating the endings, and that my garden has never looked greener!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Best - A Poem In The Mail

            Matt Forrest Esenwine hosts us today on Poetry Friday. Visit his website Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, to celebrate that recent life's challenges have changed for the better, his first book deal, and the poem he's written about spring romance in the woods! Congratulations, Matt, sounds like it's been a good week! Then, check out all the other links. 
             Jone MacCulloch at Check it Out had students write "what it knows" poems and put them on postcards to send out to other poets.  I received this wonderful poem about the tragedy of Pompeii and what it knows.  Although historically fascinating, there isn't much positive to say about Pompeii erupting and its victims. I enjoyed thinking about this tragedy again when I received the poem card, and appreciate the thoughts that Ruben included. He imagines the scene beautifully, with  lots of action that I'm not sure I've ever considered. Usually I have read and tried to imagine the terrible plight of the living things there, and after the end, not during. Those people in Pompeii knew more than one terrible things, but hopefully they knew it briefly. Thanks to Ruben for helping me consider new ideas about Pompeii in his wonderful poem.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Non-Fiction - Picture Book Joy

          Each Wednesday I'm happy to link to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at her blog, Kidlit Frenzy. I love finding good non-fiction picture books available about varied topics, for all ages, too. Here are three books with stories and illustrations that just might become favorites. 
        Thanks Alyson!

No One Saw - art presented by Bob Raczka
              Beautiful book of well-known art, with comments by the author. Each piece illuminates the art, would be wonderful to use as a starter for an art project. For example, the book shows the art piece “A Basket of Apples” by Paul Cézanne, and Raczka writes, “No one saw apples like Paul Cézanne.” And for “One Hundred Cans” by Andy Warhol, the words are “No one saw soup like Andy Warhol.” There is a list of the paintings in the back matter and short biographies of each artist.

Monday, May 18, 2015

One Slice of Every Overnight Trip

The Two Writing Teachers blogs hosts a community every Tuesday who share parts of their lives, both professional and personal, always a gift to read the words! Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Beth and Anna, we keep going!

           My class and I are back, this week starting the final things: trip response, trip board, field journals, portfolios, writing collections, final blogs. The list doesn't want to end, but school does in eleven and a half days! If you'd like to see a few pictures, see my Saturday Celebration post here. We did so much in the ten days we were traveling. In this slice I want to share about this city part of the trip that mirrors others I've experienced. To save money, we nearly always stay in the center of the chosen city, where the action is, at a hostel. This time in Washington D.C. was not different, and our stay was delightful at Hostel International on 11th Street, the link here
           When I've stayed with my classes at hostels, it's filled with more learning. Students learn to navigate the building, where the hang out places are, how to use their own room keys (they stay in groups), how to share a common bathroom, how to rise, get ready and meet in the dining area for breakfast, ready for the day--all with only the help of classmates! For those who've not been on these extended trips as older students, it is probably a new experience, and a growing up one. Younger classes also go on overnights, but are given less independent time. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

It's Monday-Reading Pleasures

Link up with Jen at TeachMentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders. and Sheila at Book Journeys.  Come visit, and tweet at #IMWAYR. Thanks to Jen, Kellee, and Ricki for hosting!

Wow, I haven't posted since April, but I haven't read much either, except thousands of words in Washington D.C. Museums! Most of the following books were read before my class trip. Lately I've had the pleasure of a NetGalley copy of Rebecca Stead's new book, Goodbye Stranger and am enjoying it very much. 

Here's what I want to share:

All The Bright Places - written by Jennifer Niven
              Two characters traveling in different high school circles, Violet and Finch, are thrown together by an unlikely occurrence. They both stand on the edge of the school’s bell tower, unable to move, ready to jump? And then we the reader are thrown into the story of this pair, each taking a turn at sharing their lives, with all the joy and hurt that happens to high school seniors, and a bit more tragedy than most. Bullying and death of a sibling enter the mix, too, along with a geography teacher whose assignment offers a beautiful backdrop to Violet’s and Finch’s lives and relationship. The discoveries made about life and about each other bring tears. The families juxtaposed against one another seem to be reflections of our society’s challenges in facing death and mental illness. It’s a book hard to read and equally hard to leave. One quote: “The air is already heavy with summer.”

Friday, May 15, 2015

There and Back Again

              Celebrating those little and big things from the week each Saturday (or later) with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build.                      Tweet at #CelebrateLu

           It's been two weeks since I posted here to celebrate, anticipating the big class trip to Washington D.C. and the Chesapeake Bay. Well, we did it, twenty-two sixth, seventh and eighth graders, four adults plus my head of school joining us during the first half in D.C. We arrived home  late Thursday afternoon. All, I mean all went well, no glitches, beautiful weather, even a rainstorm is something we all enjoyed being in on the bay. 
           Late nights, at the monuments and another at the Kennedy Center seeing the National Orchestra, meant tired people, yet we trudged on, sleepy sometimes in the am, ate breakfast and did the next "thing". In every trip, I wonder why we can't spend "all" day at one place, especially in the city, in the museums, but we believe that it's our job to offer students what is possible, and then hopefully they will return again some day. Students got lots of freedom in small groups, some playtime especially before dinner, and so much information from so many wonderful experiences. Here's a glimpse of things to celebrate, including some of my own journal sketches. I'll share more specifically about our field journal work in another post. Now, I'm celebrating "there and back again", and time alone!
           One regret: I am sorry that I was unable to connect with Michelle Haseltine. Another time Michelle? Busy times!

on the plane, the wire chairs at the hostel in D.C. help me remember that
special place, Pogo at the Newseum, sketching after the boat on the Anacostia River,
and of course, the White House!
two students wait to get into the simulator-space museum
annex at Dulles Airport

We are HERE!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Celebrating A Busy Week

              Celebrating Each Saturday with Ruth Ayres at Discover Play Build. It's a good time to welcome Saturday! Come join us!                      Tweet at #CelebrateLu

        I'm leaving with my class next Tuesday for a ten day trip to Washington D.C. & then the Chesapeake Bay area. Sorry to those of you who've read the news before! Any week before a big trip is huge, with so much to wrap up, so much to settle, and so on. Here are the highlights: 

       Students love to create machines out of discards. This time they had to be less intricate because there were only 2 weeks to work. The assignment was to use a ping-pong ball as part of the kinetic energy in order to accomplish one simple task. Everyone shared their work Monday afternoon. Here's one picture.