Monthly Archives: October 2017

A slice of who I am

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

I’m laughing because somehow I’ve ended the evening standing in my parents’ kitchen holding a sword, a bow and a skeleton goblet. I hand my mom the phone, “Take a picture!”

It’s just so different from the rest of my day. I think.

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Earlier today, I discussed strategies for helping teachers raise the Depth of Knowledge in their learning experiences. Now, the most complex problem solving I need to engage in is how to get my kids home and to bed without them eating any more candy.

Earlier today, I presented a session on  academic discourse to a room of Instructional Coaches, Mentors, and Administrators. Tonight, I debated with my friend about the color of my sweatshirt. (It’s orange, not red. Trust me. That’s why I wore it on Halloween!) Later tonight, my discourse will involve a lot of counting down to zero and sternly negotiating with children about teeth brushing, face washing, and going to bed.

It’s strange, this double life of a working parent. When I was going about my day today, in my professional conference attire, I didn’t think that the representational slice of my day would be this picture. But somehow this tired mom, in an orange(!) sweatshirt and fuzzy hat — holding an assortment of Halloween sundries — this is the truest slice of who I am.

 

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Celebrate Rainy Sunday

celebrate-image So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend!

It’s a Rainy Sunday and I love It: A Series of Sunday Celebration Haikus 

The Dog Hates the Rain
Rainy Sunday, chill
Muted color leaves, puddles
Antsy dog won’t walk
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Halloween: Not My Favorite Holiday:
Anticipating
Sugar, chocolate, fright night
Practice makes perfect
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My Sister’s An Artist
“Half Remembered Home”
She paints, lives, miles away
Fully remembered
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My Dog Loves Popcorn, and So Do I
Coconut Oil
Pop! Pop! Sizzle, dog runs, sits
Sharing Sunday lunch

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It’s a Rainy Sunday, and I Love It
Window frames still life
Rain, leaves, fall, branches flutter
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Poetry Friday Debut

I haven’t done Poetry Friday before
Maybe I’m worried I’ll run out of words
Although, have a little chat with me
And you’ll quickly see
how impossible that would be

Just breathe, I remind myself, just listen
Close your mouth, no one needs your opinion unbidden!
I’m used to speaking out
letting words just spout
before my thoughts have a chance to reroute

But I’m learning action starts with reaction
I’m not an expert, I just have passion
And so much more I want learn
I have thoughts I need to overturn
also a pile of decisions to discern

So this is my #whyIwrite I guess
A place for my brain to confess
I’m sure I’ve done it wrong, it’s true
But I’ll toss in this poem, my big debut
Be nice to me, I am new
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Thanks for the Poetry Friday Link Up, Friendly Fairy Tales!

 

Celebrating a few Themes at TCRWP

celebrate-image So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend! 

So much to celebrate after the 93rd Saturday Reunion at TCRWP.  Of course the day is full of all kinds of learning, and that is a huge celebration for me… a true gift. Another gift that I love about every Saturday Reunion I’ve been to is that there are always a few themes and connections that I follow the whole day — at the conference and sometimes around the city itself.

Here’s just a handful of celebrations from my time there this weekend…

Celebrating Writing and Teaching…

Arriving in front of Riverside Church just a little early (okay, an hour early) we had time to walk around, and bump into Jack Gantos. Well, by bump into, I mean…

Me: I think that’s Jack Gantos
Friends: No…Oh wait, is it?
Me: Googles picture of Jack Gantos and shows it to friends
Friends: Nod.
Me & Friends: Silently wish we had the courage to stop him, ask each other why we didn’t stop him after he walks by, and decide it would have been rude anyway…

Don’t worry. We snuck up after his keynote to shake his hand and say thank you.

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Picture by Kris Hall

Jack Gantos started his keynote looking out into the audience of teachers and saying, “We have so much in common. We are agents of positive change. When you are an agent of positive change, you get it back!”

Then, he talked about writing, his new book called Writing Radar, and effective writing instruction.

“The world right in front of me.” He said. “The first person world. That is the world I should be writing about… That’s the real stuff.”

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Jack Gantos speaking at TCRWP Picture by Kris Hall

Later, after many trips on the hotel elevator, the three of us were trying to figure out why we could never find our floor number. Why was the 26th floor button always somewhere different? We knew this would make an excellent math problem, so we were taking pictures of the button panel to compare with our other button panel pictures.

We turned to the only other person on the elevator with us.

Us: We just want to figure out exactly what is happening with these numbers.
Man: I know! Number 16 is always in a different place!
Us: Well, we’re teachers so we have fun figuring this sort of thing out.
Man: (exiting elevator, turning towards us one last time.) You guys are teachers? Thank you for being teachers. I have children.
Me: I’m writing that down

I think this is what Jack Gantos said to write about … this is the real stuff… and teachers are agents of positive change. Nice to be thanked. Go thank a teacher next time you see one. 😉

Speaking of being an agent of change…Celebrating Cornelius Minor.

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My new favorite picture. Love connecting to the powerful force that is @MisterMinor. (Picture by Kris Hall – Thanks, Friend!)

I can’t pass up an opportunity to see Cornelius speak. I went to his session last year and was happy to hear him again. Cornelius spoke about change, he mentioned it is evolutionary not revolutionary.  He told us that “everybody wants to make a difference. Not everyone gets invited to do so…We need a posse to help… and that can just be one other person…Change takes time.”

Later, walking the High Line, we couldn’t help but notice the story of 2 neighborhood leaders starting the fight against demolishing the high line. Now, the old abandoned railroad tracks are a beautiful garden path. Those leaders had a posse!

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Celebrating Revision…

In Lucy Calkins’ session, she talked about writing expecting revision. “Breathe in, breathe out. Draft, Revise.” She shared writing quotes with us that resonated.

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Later at the Strand Bookstore,  I saw a sticker that I think captured some of that, in a different sort of way.
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Celebrating each other…

At Lucy’s closing, she told us that this work we are doing is noble, and she reminded us of the importance of standing by each other. For our workshops to flourish, we need to rally together and support one another. “How we are to each other is most important.”  After spending the weekend with a couple of amazing teachers whom I get to call friends… I couldn’t agree with her more.

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Celebrating Grandparents

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So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend!  (In a better late than never sort of way. . . )

Last month we stopped by to visit my grandma on the way home from a trip. She met us with her caregiver on the porch of the home. She had a newspaper in her lap, and told us she loved to come out on the porch every morning to read. Her voice carried like memories, like my whole childhood wrapped in the silky smoothness of her cheeks. She hugged us and told us that we made her day. We only visited for 20 minutes or so, on strict instructions from my dad and his sister. “More than 20 minutes will tire her out.” So we started our goodbyes, even though she looked sad to see us go. Walking back to the car and getting resettled for our car trip took some time, but still, as we drove out past the porch, my grandma waved from her wheelchair. I honked my horn a few times, thinking back to all the old family horn-honking goodbyes at Grandma’s house.

My grandpa turns 101 next month.

101.

The other night we sat around the table after my dad’s birthday dinner, and my mom asked my grandpa to tell us about his old dog. It was a great story about a smart dog,  but I was busy listening to the ebb and flow of my grandpa’s voice.  I was busy thinking about my childhood, when I sat at family dinners and heard my grandpa talking, telling stories, riddles and jokes. How is it that a piece of my memory is now so embedded in the present day? 101! E says it’s more fun to say “Over a century!”

Most people don’t get to have their Grandpas and Grandmas still at this age. Mr. Thought doesn’t even get to have his parents anymore.

Somehow, I’m so lucky…  My kids get to have these very same pieces of childhood that I had. The stories, the voices, the love, the jokes, the hugs. . . And that is worth celebrating.

A slice of not writing

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

Some things I did instead of writing this evening
washed the dishes
yelled at my kids to help with the dishes
checked facebook
prepared the make-your-own pizza supplies
made pizzas with the kids
cleaned up dinner
washed more dishes (what?!?)
played hide-and-go-seek with the dog
covered his eyes, told him “no peeking!” while my daughter hid
hid while my daughter told the dog “no peeking!”
decided to call that game “no peeking!”
snuggled with the dog
laughed at the dog
discussed random things with Mr. Thought
remembered to sponsor my kids’ fundraiser since it’s due tomorrow
listened to kids play some sort of made up board game upstairs
told kids to brush their teeth
told kids to brush their teeth
told kids to brush their teeth
(you get the picture)
sat with H while he fell asleep
snuggled E to sleep
fell asleep
woke up from the dog going crazy barking at the cat’s meow
the actual cat’s meow
tucked L in
read a few chapters
ate a few junior mints
drank my water
sent a few emails
refilled my water

A slice from my chair

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

From my chair, I see
An empty grape juice bottle, not in the recycling bin
A red and grey backpack, not hung up
A sweatshirt that should probably go in the laundry
A dishtowel too.

For some reason there are 2 folding chairs and a folding table
folded up, and just leaning

and a basket of Mr. Thought’s clean laundry. Folded!
(So many things folded… does this mean something?)

From my chair, I see Mr. Thought working in the other room,
the lights from his computer
brighter than the old floor lamp leaning there

I’m not sure why this room is such a mess.
My books from my classroom are still sitting here
and even though I should be annoyed at how they spill out of their bins,
I’m not
Because it reminds me of how the books have been lent and given
to teachers
to kids
to friends

From my chair, I see
this computer
with my blog window covering up
my calendar
my to do list
my email

I wonder if it’s still called procrastinating
if it is writing?

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Celebrating. . . Children speak in poetry

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So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend!  (In a better late than never sort of way. . . )

I want to celebrate going outside to write slices of life with second graders.

We walked outside, a monarch butterfly to release, and slices of the butterfly garden to write. After a brief butterfly lesson, we sent them off to notice and wonder and write about the things they saw. Their teacher and I looked at each other and decided we couldn’t write with them … we would be too busy supervising, conferring, helping…

And we were busy… but later, as we gathered the children to go back inside, we both confessed that we had put pencil to paper…we couldn’t help it.

These children speak in poetry! I kept crying out to them, “That sounds like a line in a poem! Write that down!” And they did. They wrote their words down (after speaking them to their teacher, to their friends, to me). As I walked around, I heard these kids noticing and wondering, and saying lines that belong in poetry and on inspirational posters.

Goldenrod Butterfly
       Children speak in poetry

We found red berries
This is the perfect spot for monarch butterflies
And also spiders

Write it down, friends! 
       Children speak in poetry

Follow me!
Another path!
I know where everything is in this school

Write that down, the things you say are lines of slices
       Children speak in poetry

This leaf feels like wool
I see nature all around me
I notice, I love nature
Trees, plants give us oxygen

Say it to the page, boys and girls! 
       Children speak in poetry

Oh! The monarch's still here
A path full of plants
Even though some plants are pokey
You should want them to live. 
It's nature

Goldenrod, Butterflies
     Children speak in poetry

I almost wrote down everything.