Tag Archives: mentor texts

Celebrating with Class! And a mentor text to boot

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This post is part of Ruth Ayres Celebrate Link up. Thanks, Ruth for this great opportunity to celebrate!

I have 3 School Celebrations to share with you.

  1. Today I get to celebrate with my students! In fact, in a first ever turn of events, I’m celebrating on my blog while they write their first ever celebration pieces. It’s a double celebration, or maybe triple. We started by reading I’m In Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor/pictures by Peter Parnall. This is a beautiful book, and I am celebrating the way the pictures and words go together to make you feel the celebration. After we read, we brainstormed things we could celebrate:

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We talked about all the ways we can celebrate by writing…

  • paragraph
  • story
  • list
  • poem
  • pictures

Now we are writing. It’s quiet, which is nice. Some students are watching my writing, which is also nice. I like writing in front of my students, even though it does feel a bit odd.  A few students are still settling into the stamina of sitting and quietly writing without distracting themselves or others, which I understand. It’s September. I’m celebrating September writing! 

2. This year I teach 2 ELA classes back to back. I’ve just read I’m in Charge of Celebrations for the second time this morning. Before the school year started, I thought I would be bored teaching “the same” thing two times in a row. I’d like to call a celebration for that NOT happening. I’m anything but bored. Today I got to read I’m in Charge of Celebrations TWICE! Today I got to fill my board with even more celebrations with my second class. Today I get to connect with 50 students through the power of reading and writing. I’m lucky.

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3. Speaking of I’m in Charge of Celebrations. Reading a book like that 2 times in a row made it an automatic mentor text. As I read it I felt the pull to write about a celebration in the style of Byrd Baylor… Again writing in front of my students, while they write. As students finish writing a celebration, I challenge them to write again, choosing a poem this time, or a list, or a paragraph if they just did a poem. And I start thinking about celebrating my own children and their school:

Celebrating September 
A school year where all 3 children go to the same school!
Thanks to Byrd Baylor's inspiration

Friends, I wish you had been there
to hear
my children,
giddy with anticipation
share the names of 
reading buddies
make plans for
meeting for worship
discuss the rules
for the elevator

All three
of my babies
are not babies anymore, 
I know. 

All three
are in the same school now
with the chance to
be more than siblings
Yes, 
It's possible to 
be more 
than siblings
Now they are 
Schoolmates
Part of a family
and 
a community.

I've decided that September is a celebration 
for school. 
Not just any school celebration.
I don't want a day 
to 
buy 
more 
markers and post its, 
notebooks and pencils
stickers and baskets
I want a day to celebrate 
that my children 
get to spend 
their days
in the same community
they get to 
share common ground. 
They get to 
be more
than siblings.

I hope you have a lot to celebrate this weekend!

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Celebrating Grandpa(s)

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So glad to be participating in the Celebrate link up. Thank you, Ruth Ayres for this awesome Saturday tradition. 

Knowing I was planning for my memoir study with my 6th graders, my instructional coach shared some mentor text ideas she found on Choice Literacy. There were so many to choose from, and my librarian was able to find a big stack for me. On Friday, I read one of my (new-to-me) favorites to my class: Grandpa Green, by Lane Smith. 

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I  connected to this book. My grandpa, 97 years old and now starting to slow down, has been staying with my parents recently. Reading this book, I reflected on how lucky I am to be a mother myself with living grandparents. My children have been growing up with two great-grandparents (My grandma on the other side of my family will be turning 92 this year). I was trying to pinpoint memories of my grandfather, and the first thing I noticed was that to me, my grandparents have just always been a part of my life. My childhood memories are full of time with each of them. This is the first thing I’m celebrating today: How lucky I am to have these grandparents as solid parts of my whole life. I watch as my mom helps my grandpa, and I hope they are both finding time to celebrate his 97(!) years.

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My mom helping my grandpa to the car

My connection seemed specific when I first read the book, so I thought closely on the subject.  My grandpa who grew up on a farm continued through this past summer to work in his garden, like the grandpa in the book. He was born “…before computers or cell phones or television.”  Like Grandpa Green, my grandpa has started to forget things. However,  he was a scientist, not a war hero like  Grandpa Green, and he only has 2 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. He didn’t meet my Grandma at a cafe (I don’t think!)  and my mother pointed out that my grandpa got his chicken pox in his thirties, unlike Grandpa Green.  So perhaps the book was just as a memoir is supposed to be – a story that resonates, not in its specific facts, but in its universal truth.  Grandpas were “…born a really long time ago. . . ” and are now “pretty old…”

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Tonight, I plan on reading the book to my own children, and I wonder what their connections will be. They have a grandpa and a great-grandpa. I’m sure to my children, both of these men were  “…born a really long time ago. . . ” and are now “pretty old…”

Although I had this immediate connection, I wasn’t sure what my class would think. I shouldn’t have worried. This story sparked many memories for them. They have grandparents, and parents who have exciting and interesting pasts, and I heard all about them.

“My grandfather was in a war. I’m not sure which one, but he was in the Army.”

“My dad’s first kiss was in high school with my mom.”

“My grandpa likes to garden too.”

It was one of those times I like to celebrate in my classroom. I thought we’d read the book, do a quick write in our writer’s notebooks: something to add to our writing territories and look back on when we are ready to dive into writing our own memoirs. But, I was wrong. This book inspired much more. What they all needed was discussion and sharing and it took at least double my time estimate. The majority of the class wanted to share something. So, we celebrated GrandpaS. (And dads and uncles and memories) The last things I am celebrating: Kids leading the way during literacy, and amazing mentor texts.