Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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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. 

Celebrating my kids through paradox

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

What are you celebrating? As my kids make a mess of slime in the kitchen that was already full of dirty dishes, I’m celebrating this messy job of parenting. . .

One of my sons  might drive you crazy painting white out onto a table, and needing 3 reminders to stop. He’s also the one who will help you move tables and chairs without being asked. He’ll enjoy the jolly rancher you give him to say thank you, and he will also ask “Why are they trying to bribe us with tickets and treats?” after he hears about the positive behavior system. He definitely benefits from authentic positive feedback, and the he is impassioned about the ridiculousness of positive behavior incentives.

My daughter cares so much about animals, she won’t read a book or watch a movie that might have an animal go through a hardship… and she sighs loudly and rolls her eyes when I remind her to take the dog out. She sits for hours creating beautiful clay jewelry, a highly detailed sketch, and batches of slime. She also doesn’t understand why she has to go to school, and learn to study better. She is a creative writer, wants to write a book, and hates to sit and read. She reminds me to be stricter with her brothers a minute or two before she whacks them with the end of the dog’s leash.

My youngest reads voraciously once he starts, asks me to order him books, spouts off facts he’s learned from his books, and complains when I ask him to do his 20 minutes of reading. He talks about not having new friends in his new school and a minute later tells me a funny story about the kids he was playing with at recess, or that 2 of his friends will be going to math with him. He tells on his brother, and then (of course) turns around and mimics whatever his brother just did.

Isn’t it funny how everyone is different? Isn’t it amazing? Even within ourselves we are different — full of paradoxes.  How can I figure out my children? How can I help them grow while I celebrate who they are?

 

Some Celebrations, big and small #HashTagsIncluded

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

Some Celebrations, big and small

Right now I am celebrating:

Listening: My dog drops the shoes he steals now, without chewing them up first. Usually.  #HeStillRunsAway

Remodelling: The family room rug – the one that same dog chewed up – is gone. Hardwood floors are in! #NowWeHaveToPaint

Learning: Spending time with my coaching team — getting to know them, getting excited to work with them. #LuckyMe

Replacing:  Our 17 year old car is off to the highway in the sky, and we have a lovely used prius now…45 mpg. #Good4Planet

Listing: Somehow this list is patterned L-R-L-R… and patterns are something to celebrate and extend… #PatternNerd

Reading: Audiobooks on walks, young adult books on my deck, professional development books in between. #NeedMoreShelves

Lingering: I pause when I can, summer is short…I want to soak up the sun and time with my babies. #It’sAlmostAugust

Restarting: My kids and I will all be in new schools this school year… we are all nervous, but so excited! #BlankSlate

Looking: I’m trying to look at things and take them in, notice the good. #There’sSoMuchGood

(W)riting: I need to do it even more… but #IamWriting

#sol17 March 29 A Confession Slice, and some poems

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

 

Confession Slice. 

I wrote a poem slice.
But the rhythm was off.
So I started over,
and that one stunk too.
So here, I’ve written a few:

Today: Bulletin Boards

I had to cover bulletin boards today,
So my students won’t cheat on their standardized tests
I might not agree, but it’s what PDE thinks is best.

Today: My Dog

My dog wouldn’t take a walk with me
Even though I had my sneakers on, and treats in my pocket.
Even when I cheered “Let’s go!”
All he did was stand there, unmoving, saying “NO!”
So I took him to the dog park, where he ran and played
Tired out, I took him home, where he chewed and lay.

Today: Writing

As soon as I start writing,
the dog is no longer tired.
He wants to play tug of war,
Now he seems so wired!

He wants to chase, and chew, and tug
Now he probably wants a walk!
But it’s bedtime for the human kids –
I mean, just take a look at the clock!

I’m not trying to bore you with my griping
It’s just that I’m not so good
at playing chase or tug of war,
at least not while I’m typing.

#sol17 March 24 A slice of a love note. 

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

 

Dear Students, 

My head is in my hands. It’s true. I can’t believe that some of you are having such a hard time not distracting yourself and others. You are bickering! Stealing silly objects from each other. It’s annoying, and the rest of the class is having a hard time concentrating. I am having a hard time concentrating and helping students. 

What do I need to do? I’ve already asked nicely, had a few heart to hearts, moved your seats, told everyone it is silent work time, and let you know that continuing will mean an office referral. 

“She’s actually mad.” I hear one of you say. 

And I realize that’s not really true. I’m not mad. 

The class is distracted for sure, but it is 15 minutes until the last class bell on a Friday. The atmosphere here is not heavy with defiance. It’s just odd. 

A few of you are still working, but most of you are watching your classmates who are acting up and me. You are wondering, I guess, what I wil do. 

“Her patience is running out, guys.” I hear someone say. 

This isn’t really true either. Although patience isn’t exactly my best quality.

Something strikes me in this moment where I am rubbing my eyebrows and trying to figure out what my next step is.

I realize that I really do love all of you. 

“I love you all,” I say, “And I’m so glad it’s Friday.” 

“You’re just saying that because it helps you get through the year with us.” One of you counters. 

“No. She does. I believe her.” Someone argues. 

“It’s true.” I say. And I look all around so you all know that I’m talking about you. 

“Would you risk your life for us?” You ask. 

“Yes.”

I know you know I love you. Yesterday when asked who an ally is, I heard you say “Students, teachers…especially Ms. Feinberg. ” 

I wrote that down on a little post it note. I’ll take it out later when I’m having a bad day. 

This is not a bad day. 

Now I look around, I smile at you, and ask you once again to get back to work. 

There are 14 more minutes of class left, and we have work to get done. 

Love,

Ms. Feinberg 
 

#sol17 March 9 A Slice of a Trip

Slice of LIfe I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March. You should do it too! Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

A slice of a Trip: 

I don’t like slicing from a hotel bed, typing on my phone.
But how else would I write, so far away from home?

I don’t like the Lincoln tunnel, crammed before we even zipper in.
But how else can we travel efficiently to our destination?

I don’t like spending $80 on grilled cheese, pasta and guacamole with chips
But how else could we have show tunes belted straight from our waiters’ lips?

I don’t like elevators packed with strangers and coffee lines out the door
But how else could I get my morning drink before our family toured?

I don’t like how apple maps keeps letting me down.
But how else would we have walked and seen so much uptown?

I don’t like the whining and the complaining all day.
But how else would I truly appreciate the quiet now, as they all play?

I don’t like keeping secrets. My secret skills are low.
But how else would we surprise the kids tonight, when we take them to a show?

I don’t like slicing from a hotel bed, typing on my phone.
But how else would I write so far away from home?

#sol17 March 6 A slice of complaint

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

 Allow me a complaint poem. . . 

Elimination diet, I’m so tired of you
Breakfast: Coffee with almond milk
More almond (butter) in my oatmeal, and
Lunch: Veggies, with a few cashews
All day, I drink water, that’s nothing new
Salted homemade popcorn for a snack,and
Dinner: Veggies again,
With spices and some tofu
It’s fine, not a horrible thing to have to do
Such a first world problem – not a problem,
A stupid thing to complain about. But, 
Elimination diet, I’m so tired of you

A slice of Water?

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

“Um, Ona? Water?” Sara lifts the wine glass with confusion. I had just poured her a glass, from a bottle of wine.

“No! I just poured that. Let me taste it.”

Water. That is water. What?

I look at the bottle, wondering how wine can change to water… does that happen if the new bottle wasn’t sealed? Is there some sort of chemical reaction? My mind starts making up new scientific facts… then I hold up the bottle, remembering how it seemed awfully easy to open the twist cap. I turn to H, with a question, “Um, H?” He looks up at the bottle in my hand. He is suddenly beet red, eyes wide.

“Oh no! I –”

L starts laughing, and the story comes out. Months ago, H took an empty bottle of wine, rinsed it out and filled it with water. Mr. Thought came in and told him not to play with wine bottles, so H put it back. It isn’t clear here if he simply forgot about his project, or if he was planning on tricking me, but then forgot about it. Whatever the case, he certainly did not plan on tricking his beloved “Aunt” Sara. This is clear by the color that stays on his cheeks, the head shaking, the anguish.

“It was filtered fridge water!” He winces. “I promise!”

 

Winter Break Slice-A-Day Challenge #8

I’ve challenged my 6th graders to a Slice-A-Day during our winter break…I will attempt to keep up with the challenge as well!

Yesterday I had to stop by my classroom to get library books that were due… so I dragged my kids with me intending to to grab to the books and then go home. As we walked down the steps though, the kids started asking if we could stay a bit.

Hmmm… possibilities started popping into my head of small projects I could do in my classroom.

“Are you sure?” I asked, trying not to get my hopes up as I put away my holiday decorations. In response, they got out some legos and dice, and started playing a game. I happily labeled my new nonfiction books (read a few too!) and then asked again, “You guys okay hanging out a little bit longer?”

They hardly looked away from their game to nod their heads. So, I put my nonfiction books out on display…

Their game was over, but now they were all playing legos… So, I organized my new fiction books…

They were still playing…

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I told the kids we should get going. They didn’t want to… so I filed some papers, cleaned off my desk, and graded a stray late quiz.

Finally they agreed to go. They cleaned up the legos, I grabbed my library books and off we went.

As we walked back to the car I realized it had been over 2 hours of no bickering, kids playing together, and getting some of my work done.

A Christmas miracle for sure.

(And I think a short book called “If you give a teacher time in her room…”)