Friday, December 27, 2019

Poetry Friday: Thanks

THANKS by W.S. Merwin
This poem starts out easy, but it gets complicated real quick. Kind of like life. In her commentary, Tracy K. Smith says of the poem,"It insists upon a fierce form of moral reckoning."

Nonetheless, I'm giving thanks for YOU, as well as for every bit of this complicated messy achingly beautiful world. Listen to the podcast and read the whole poem here.

Thanks, also, for Michelle Kogan's POWER filled Poetry Friday Roundup. The last roundup of the year. I almost missed this one...what day is it today? Lookie there! It's Friday!!

The January - June 2020 roundup list is in our sidebar for the grabbing (or message me and I'll send you the code) and on the Kidlitosphere website.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Poetry Friday -- The Power of Short Writing

I found this great article that reminded me about the power of short writing. SHORT writing seemed like just the thing for this past SHORT week and its potentially SHORT attention spans. It was also a good way to keep working on one of my main goals as a teacher of writing -- I want my students to be fluent as writers. I want them to be able to get an idea and run with it, to take risks, to get words on the page...and then go back and make those words communicate more clearly and effectively.

We started the week by writing 50 word summaries of the read aloud we finished last week, Indian No More by Charlene Willing Mcmanis.

I think JC did a great job with her summary! She is an EL who has only been in the US (from Hong Kong) for five months.

I love GP's themes, especially, "No matter what road you get, you still have to drive." I'm thinking he's heard that one at home!

This one is my favorite. HM clearly has some challenges with his writing conventions, but his thinking is SO intact. He found some sketches of butterfly chrysalises in his writer's notebook, from back in the fall when we watched caterpillars grow and change. He drew them on his paper, but I wouldn't let him get away with randomness. I told him he had to connect them to the story. And he did. He so did. The butterfly stage represents the family's happiness on the reservation. The pupa stage represents their sadness and struggles. But after the pupa stage comes another butterfly, so they WILL be happy again. And "they will always stay Indian."

After our 50 word summaries, we went on to Get Curious -- Encyclopedia Edition. I gave each child (or pair) one volume of our classroom set of encyclopedias. The assignment was to 1. Browse, 2. Get Curious, 3. Take Notes, 4. Write a haiku. Here's one by ZA about Kimchi.

Kimchi’s important
It is traditionally
Used in Korea


Next, we did Get Curious -- NewsELA Edition. JW read articles about the impeachment process (mouths of babes, my friends...mouths of babes), and JF read about the tourists who were killed by a volcano in New Zealand.

Donald Trump is bad.
Donald Trump should be Impeached.
Donald Trump is bad.


14 die on New Zealand’s White Island During Volcanic Eruption

December 9th
The blast left 30 people hurt
Words were things like help


Here's to SHORT WRITING on almost the SHORTEST DAY of the year! Buffy is hosting the "Almost Solstice" edition of the Poetry Friday Roundup today.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Teaching is hard.

Teaching is hard. No, wait. Let me rephrase that. Raising up twenty-seven 10- and 11-year-olds to be kind, responsible citizens is hard. Doing that makes adding and subtracting fractions with common denominators look like a piece of cake.

We make mistakes. (At least I do.) But hopefully, we also reflect, and talk to our unpaid counselors (brother, husband, friends), and come back the next day ready to do a better job.

This is year 36 for my tradition of making cookies for my class to decorate. And this year, I made the mistake of holding cooking decorating over their heads as if it is a reward for good behavior.

And it's not.

And it never has been.

Cookie decorating is a gift I give to my students. It's a gift of my talents and my heart. It has always been and always should be given with joy and love.

Like a parent, I must compartmentalize my disapproval of and frustration with a child's behavior, and my love for the child as a growing, learning young human. As an adult, I must model for my students how to criticize constructively while loving unconditionally.

I'll stop there, because I need to go iron my Pajama Day pajamas and get to work.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Poetry Friday -- The Grace of the World

Vermont, 2015

The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.

(read the rest here, and take a few moments to listen to him reading the poem)

Impeachment, global warming, violence, mass extinctions, greedy corporations. But also Greta Thunberg...and art that has lasted 44,000 years...and the peace of wild things. These all give me some kind of hope for some kind of future. Plus, for the short term, we've got a Poetry Friday Roundup Schedule for January-June 2020!

For the even shorter term, head over to Liz Steinglass' blog right now for this week's Poetry Friday Roundup!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Imagine That!

Here are two books that will inspire children to use their imaginations.

What's Your Favorite Food?
by Eric Carle and Friends
Henry Holt and Co., 2019
library copy

Each illustrator chose a favorite food, wrote a little about it, and illustrated it in his/her own unique way. Not only is it fun to see which of OUR favorite foods are THEIR favorite foods, we get to see (in the illustrator bios in the back) each of the illustrators as a child! Yes, their bio photos are of themselves as children. Lookie there! Kids that look like YOU who grew up to become famous illustrators! Imagine that!

It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way
by Kyo Maclear
illustrated by Julie Morstad
HarperCollins, 2019
library copy

Gyo Fujikawa's life as an artist intersected with historical events that shaped who she was and what she believed about her art. In this picture book biography, we see her drawing from a very young age, then, after high school, attending art school in the mid-1920's on scholarship. She worked for Disney in the early 1940's, saw her family sent to internment camps during the war, witnessed the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement. In the early 1060s, she submitted her groundbreaking book illustrated with multiracial characters and didn't back down when the publisher said children of different races should not be in the same book. It is thanks to her (and other bookmakers such as Ezra Jack Keats) that all kinds of kids can see characters who look like them in more picture books than ever. Imagine that!

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Poetry Friday -- Advice

Unsplash photo by Joel Muniz

Be kind to yourself. 
Empty your bucket and then... 
be kind to yourself.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019

"Never be afraid 
of showing someone you love 
a draft of yourself."

(from the author's note in EVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN by Chris Cleave)

I'm sure I'm not the only one whose bucket is or has been empty. These #haikuforkindness are a reminder that we need to take care of ourselves. There can be no #haikuforjustice if we don't put the oxygen mask on ourselves first.

Tanita has the Poetry Friday roundup at [fiction, instead of lies].