Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Books and New Years (*and a give-away*)

*The give-away is now closed.  Congratulations to the winner...Abby!  I will message you with more information!  Thanks for the great recommendations.*


Christmas break so far has been a lovely respite from teaching and grading.  While I've enjoyed time with family most of all, I've also enjoyed time with Ida B. Applewood.  I highly recommend Ida B by Katherine Hannigan.  It's a charming narrative with loveable characters--perfect for snuggling up with coffee and my Christmas tree. 


My favorite scene is when Ida's teacher "tricks" her into opening up to the class by having her read a story aloud.  Ida can hardly contain herself because she loves the book so much.  After the read-aloud Ida says, "Nothing was different except the warm glow that was in my belly and my arms and my legs and my head and wouldn't go away.  Even on the long, cruddy bus ride home."  Don't you love a book that makes you feel that way?

I'm even more delighted to start another book by Katherine Hannigan soon.  In a happy coincidence, my cousin gave me True as a Christmas gift.  I think both of these would make excellent books on tape, by the way.


What have you been reading?  In the spirit of the season (and paying it forward from a give-away I just won from Liz at My Life in Projects), I will send a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky reader who leaves a comment with a recommendation and mini-review of a recent read.  It doesn't even have to be teaching-related.  You have until Tuesday 1/1 at noon to enter!
*This contest now closed!*

In other news, have you made any 2013 resolutions yet?  I have decided to pay off a large library overdue fee...long story, but the gist is that my teacher account with automatic renewal privileges doesn't apply to DVDs!  Anyway, because I was so mortified at my fine I've been avoiding the library, which is just plain silly.  I have resolved to make 2013 the year of the library for me!

I'm also looking forward to some blogging plans in the works.  Coming up, a multi-part tour of my classroom.  I'm also trying to line up some guest bloggers soon.  My best wishes to you for 2013!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Autism Speaks Donation Total

Drumroll please... the moment you've all been waiting for!  Thanks to all who have donated to our fundraiser for Autism Speaks.  We officially raised $505! 

In an exciting twist, the Autism Speaks Board of Directors is doubling all donations made between now and December 31.  So... that means our little snowflake project turns into $1010 for an amazing cause.

I am thrilled to send a check to Autism Speaks in the next few days.  I even thought about getting a giant check printed (a la Michael Scott from The Office "Fun Run" epidode).

 
I am beyond humbled by the sucess of this project.  If you didn't get to order one, consider making your own donation here.
 
 
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!
 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gifts of Writing

Every year at the holidays my students create gifts of writing.  I've done it ever since student teaching and have even made sure to practice what I preach each year.  (Mom says it's one the highlights of Christmas when she recieves hers!  Aw, shucks, Mom...)

It's a fun way to encourage creative, authentic writing.  Plus it's always a great way to get to know my students when I see what they want to capture as they write to loved ones.

This year, for some reason the trend in my afternoon class became writing parodies to popular songs about ME!  They were all hilarious, some more creative, others more awkward.  Here's a sampling....

This one is the ending of "Sheets Style," of course to the tune of "Gangnam Style."  (I'm a sucker for a student calling me 'funny.')



This one is to the tune of "Black and Yellow."  The sweet introvert that gave me this tune does an awesome job of performing it. 

I'm partial to the line about Kathleen's laugh.  They cracked up when I imitated it one time.




This one is to "Party Rock" and realllly long.  (Four pages!)  But I love it!

 
I haven't been able to obtain the rights to "She's Funny and She Knows it."  That's right, it's to the tune of "Sexy and I Know It."  By the way, what is the correct way to respond to a fifth grader performing THAT parody?  Laugh uncomfortably?  I thought so. 
 
Anyway, my favorite lines in that ditty go, "She walks in the room, a confident teacher staring back at me" and "She's got knowledge in her head and she ain't afraid to teach it, teach it, teach it."  Classic.
 
I crack up at this pic taken at today's pizza party... Wishing you and your special friends a very happy holidays and a wonderful (restful) break! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Worn

I'm at a loss.

My normally cheery blogging seems superficial and insincere in the face of the events in Connecticut today.  I just keep thinking (and shuddering), "What would I do?"  We dutifully practice lock downs every year, but one can never be prepared.  What would I do?

This week has been a hard one in many ways, but today put so much of my grumbling in perspective.  And while we all struggle to process what happened today, I keep coming to two things that have brought any sense of hope.

One is this quote from Mr. Rogers, a man I greatly respect and admire for his work with talking to children about life. 

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers--so many caring people in this world.

 
What a wise man with a wise message.  Tragedy is incomprehensible, but we need to keep moving forward, looking to "the helpers."  We need to live life with a sense of gratitude for each moment.

The other is a song by Tenth Avenue North called "Worn."  It summarizes my feelings perfectly and the reminder that this world is so broken but there is hope and healing in heaven. 

 
Praying for all touched by this tragedy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Girls Being Girls

So I've started ANOTHER blog :)

All in the name of "Girls Being Girls," a group ATP #2 and I plus our AGC (Awesome Guidance Counselor) are starting for our sweet girls.  We'll be teaching strategies to be a good friend, have self-confidence, etc.  All to be the best girls we can be!

So check out the Girls Being Girls Blog to see what we're up to!

Here's a sneak peak for today...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"The Magic of Belle Isle"

Upon a recommendation from my dad, I watched the movie "The Magic of Belle Isle" recently.  I don't even remember hearing about this movie coming out, but I'm glad Dad shared it with me.


The movie stars Morgan Freeman as a former western-novel writer who is past his prime.  He moves to a remote town and befriends a woman and her three daughters.  One of the girls takes interest in him and asks that he mentor her in "Imagination Classes."  


There were some insightful quotes on writing and the creative process in general.  Some of my favorites:

If you can't tell me what you see, tell me what you don't see.

(In reference to his distaste for fantasy/ sci fi books)  You don't have to leave this planet to tell a good story.

I always felt like a book is a friend that does what no friend can do, stay quiet when you wanna think.

Frankly, the plot itself was nothing too original, but the characters were endearing and memorable.  Plus, I could listen to Morgan Freeman read from the dictionary.  I think I'll post a quote or two on the writer's inspiration board in my classroom.

*Note--not an appropriate movie for students in my opinion.  Freeman struggles with alcoholism at the beginning of the film.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Follow Up to 'Nurturing Young Writers'

Yesterday I met with a sweet student to work on poetry (and build her confidence along the way).

It was fun and a big encouragement to me. We ended up writing two poems and painting with watercolors. In the spirit of sharing, here is my poem. Still needs a little work, but I think I like where it's going.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nurturing Young Writers (and Hearts!)

Next week I am meeting with a sweet student in need of a little extra encouragement.  She loves writing and especially poetry, so we're going to have a one-on-one poetry/writing/I-want-to-build-into-you time.  So, today I'm prepping for it.

Here are my musings so far:

-Read SARK and Brian Andraeas (Story People) and other inspiring writers together and talk about what their work means

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{All images copyrighted by SARK/Fireman}
 
-Write letters to ourselves about what we think we ROCK at
-Write poetry about what's on our hearts and how to channel anxiety we feel.  I may even share this SARK piece about money.  Even though it's not something she worries about, we can look at how SARK addresses a specific, legitimate concern and then finds ways to free herself from it.

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{copyrighted by SARK}
 
Has anyone done anything like this with a child in your life?  I'd love some advice or feedback.  I'll let you know how it goes!

**This post dedicated to Mrs. Wolford, my seventh grade writing teacher, who would always share little SARK quotes in books she had made special for me.  She was so encouraging to my insecure 7th-grade self.  Thanks, Mrs. Wolford!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Autism Speaks pt 2

We had crafting day #2 and made close to double the amount of ornaments we did last time!  Plus we're up to $130 raised so far!  All for the great cause of Autism Speaks. 

By the way, did you know autism now affects 1 in 88 American children? With the prevalance being 1 in 54 boys!? By comparison, more children are diagnosed with autism each year than with juvenile diabetes, AIDS, or cancer, COMBINED. We need to raise money to help with research, education, and support of children with autism and their families.  Please join us!



 
I also was able to get out to some local retailers today and three shops are now selling these lovely creations.  If you're in the area, stop by Kidd Coffee, Mims on Main, or Main Street Sweets for your very own ornament.  Thanks in advance for your support!
 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Autism Speaks Fundraiser

Autism is a cause that is close to my heart.  I've had close to 20 students with Autism or Aspergers in my 6 years in the biz, all of whom have been special and awesome in his or her own way.  I've loved learning about fish, Jedis, cats, trains, Shamu, American Idol, Legos, the Babysitters Club, and tiaras through their eyes.  Their sweet spirits and unique ways of seeing the world inspire me.

So I wanted to do something to support them.

A few months ago I saw this image on Pinterest from Lisa's Craft Blog and it made me think about the puzzle piece as the symbol for Autism awareness. 


And voila, our fundraiser was born.  Even better, we were able to get all the supplies donated by Scrap4Art or school staff members. 

Sweet students volunteered to stay after school and help make the ornaments.  (By the way, we had just as many or maybe more boys than girls, woot! Go, boy crafters!)  We made about 90 ornaments following the blog directions, with some creative twists.  Some students went with the small pieces, others got a little crazier with large puzzle pieces.  All were decorated with glitter and fun ribbons. 

 
 


I love the flair that only kids can bring to a project like this.  It went so well that we scheduled a second session for this week.

Now comes the fun part!  We're selling these ornaments to local retailers, families, and staff for $5.  I hope it goes well and that we're able to make a difference for individuals with autism and their families.



By the way, if YOU would like to support the cause, leave a comment with your email and I will hook you up!  Thanks in advance for your support.  I hope it helps inspire you to do what you can for the cause that is closest to your heart.




 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love Thanksgiving.  Currently, I'm enjoying the down-time between food prepwork and full-on cooking before all of the family arrives.  It's great to celebrate a day of reflecting on all of our blessings, big and small.  Today I'll share some of the items on my school thankfulness list.

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1. I'm thankful for my teaching team.  They are hard-working, gifted, passionate educators.  They are supportive and yet challenge me to grow and get better every day.

2. I'm thankful for my past teammates.  I've worked with some wonderful teachers who have all made me a better teacher.

3. I'm grateful for administrators I respect and trust.  I am aware that is the exception in education and I don't take it for granted.

4. I'm grateful that there are professional communities like the Ohio Writing Project.  I love the way my experiences with them have grown me as a teacher.  I am grateful to still be involved in the work they are doing to teach, support, and empower teachers.

5. I am thankful for my classroom.  I love the smell and the coziness and knowing it's my own space to create community that impacts kids.

6. I am thankful for books.  For the chance to share them with my students and to have discussions everyday about great literature and characters.

7. I am blessed by my department.  There are so many amazing ideas and resources housed in that group of dynamic women. 

8. I am grateful for days off that reenergize me for the days ahead!

9. I am thankful for moments with students that remind me why I became a teacher.  This past week we had our first poetry slam competition.  We had a student with autism who "hates writing" perform his original poem about Bengal cats and another sweet girl share publicly about the recent death of her father.  Neither won, but it was amazing to watch them confidently share with our team.

10. I am grateful that even on the hardest days I know I am still called to teaching.  Very few enjoy the blessing of not only knowing what job God created them to do, but actually get to do it in a place they love.


Thanks for letting me share some of the reflection this day brings.  Enjoy your day!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Veterans Day!

On Friday we celebrated Veterans Day at school.  It's one of my favorite days of the year as we honor more than 300 special vets, some of whom have never recieved proper recognition.


My favorite sweet visitor to our team is a 92-year-old veteran who came to visit one of my students.  Her dad works at a nursing home and had a special connection with him.  He spoke a bit about his World War II experiences and even brought in mementos to show the students.  It was awesome to see so many 10-year-olds crowded around to look at his photos and treasures.  (And funny to help him get out to his bright red Camaro after the program!)

After a parade through the building, the vets enter our packed gymnasium and are honored with songs, thank you's, and poetry.  Two great teachers established a "Just Three Words" slideshow the students help create.  It's a special part of the program and you can view it here.

Thank you, Veterans.  Thinking of you today, Grandpa Ted!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

There is Only One You

Today I have a beautiful quote to share with you...

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time. This expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.

No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
 
-Martha Graham
 
Lovely, eh?!  I need to find a place to put it up in my room- not only for my students but for a personal reminder on rough days, too!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Kiss Your Brain!

ATP introduced me to the phrase "Kiss your brain!" Have you heard of it?? Basically we say to a student when they say something really smart and spot on. Then they have to mime kissing their fingers then touch their brain. It's adorable. And then the best part...

The student gets a Hershey's kiss!! It's a fun (and yummy) way to reward great thinking!


I'll tell you soon about our team shirts to go along with 'Kiss Yo Brain!'


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

 

I hope your day at school was mostly good and calm, but I doubt it. In the spirit of what can be one of the craziest days of the school year, a laugh for you:
 
 
Funny Halloween Ecard: 'I'm so happy Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year!' said no teacher ever.


Have a great day (and sneak some candy from the kids)!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vote for Somebody!

One week to Election Day! 

One of Awesome Teaching Partner's students found this video today.  Isn't it adorable?!  Fourth grade students at Harlem Prep sang "Vote for Somebody" to the tune of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe."


Hopefully this will inspire YOU to vote and show your students the importance of exercising one of our most important civic rights and responsibilites.  (And it will probably be stuck in your head the rest of the day!)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Character Collages

This week we're launching our next piece of writing, character essays. To help the students brainstorm, we created these collages for each character.

Each student had to think about the internal and external traits of their character and use magazines and drawings to fill in a silhouette. The level of artistic expression varied, but overall we had fun starting to think about ways to describe a character.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Thank You!

This week our grant committee will be presenting to the foundation that sponsored Cynthia Lord's visit.  I recruited sweet sister and her mad video skills  to work with me on producing this video for our presentation.  Enjoy the highlights.

video

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Happy Cynthia Lord Day!

 
{one day belated}

Yesterday and the day before we were blessed with a visit by the real-life Cynthia Lord (author of Rules, Touch Blue, Hot Rod Hamster, and Happy Birthday Hamster) to our very own school!  It was such a lovely day, thanks to the many great teachers and administrators who helped along the way.

Me and my new Newbery buddy
She shared lots of funny stories, insight on the novel, and my favorite, lots of tips for writers (young and old!).  Here are some of my favorite quotes:
 
The four ways to become an author:  read, write, learn, dream.
 
You don't have to be perfect when you're an author.
 
I start to think about all the possibilities, and that is how I decide what to write about.
 
I was trying to write the book [I] couldn't find.
 
The story in my head is always so much better than those first draft pages.
 
From Jame Smiley "Every first draft is perfect, because all the first draft has to do is exist."
 
Dare not to be perfect.  Dare to keep working on your story despite that little voice in your head that says, 'This is not very good.'
 
Every story follows a formula: Want, Obstacles, and Win?  What does your character want?  What is in your character's way?   What does he or she do to try to get it?  Does your character get what they want?
 
Until you tell the reader the "want" and the "obstacle," they don't know what the story is about.
 
There is no substitute for experience. (in writing sensory details)
 
Your imagination is actually too perfect.  If you just imagine your entire book totally out of your head, all the people and places in it, you'll often imagine something you've seen on tv.
 
I pay special attention to anything that surprises me.  The surprises that you couldn't have imagined often become the gold in the description.
 
I live for that smiley face. (in reference to her editor's marks during revision)
 
 
 
The kids (and teachers) loved it! Thanks, Cynthia!  We can't wait for Loonsong to come out!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pay It Forward

As part of our exciting visit with author Cynthia Lord (I'll tell you more tomorrow) we've been challening our students to "Pay it Forward" for 30 days. 

This started with two awesome teachers last year and has grown to the whole fifth grade this time around. Find our description below:


I was thrilled to be involved this year in expanding that effort.  Part of this has included the creation of business cards for students to distribute as they went out to do acts of kindness. 

 
 
Each of these cards includes a link to our Pay it Forward Project Blog.  The most exciting part of all of this is hearing the community response on our blog.  I can't wait to hear more from my students as we wrap up our challenge next week.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Columbus Day!

Another post coming at you compliments of sister...

In honor of Columbus Day, a poem for you:

Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue
Columbus sailed the ocean blue
Back in 1492.
He sailed across and spotted land,
A beach, and people on the sand.

He called them Indians because
He had no idea where he was,
India was just a guess.
When in doubt, declare success.
 
by Ramon Montaigne
 
I hope you have a good one!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

"Nothing Gold Can Stay"

My sweet sister shared this poem on her blog, Presbydestrian (highly recommend you check it out!).  Since I'm the big sister, I didn't think she'd mind if, like a favorite sweater from her closet, I borrowed it from her (well, Rob Frost REALLY).
 
I am so blessed that she and I share a love of reading and marvel over the words of authors and poets.  We had some amazing writing teachers and wonderful parents that always emphasized that reading is a reward and privilege.  In our home, there was never a threat to make us read for bad behavior, but rather we heard, "No story at bedtime!" and took that prompting to change our behavior (usually!).
 
Without further ado, in honor of all the beautiful changing leaves, a poem by Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay:
 
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Happy fall!

OCSS Conference

I spent a few days this past week at the Ohio Council for Social Studies Convention in Columbus.  The conference delved into the present and future of SS teaching in the state.

Conference Highlights/Sources:
Gapminder.org  It's a really neat visual representation of geographic and social data at a world level throughout history. This came out of a session on integrating math and science in Social Studies.

National Geographic's Map Machine  really cool maps that can be fully edited to include labels, latitude and logitude, or any other features you want to include or not.  I'll be using this for sure.  This was from a presentation by the Ohio Geography Alliance.

A quote from presenter David Staley, "We can not longer teach with a focus on answers.  We need to focus on thinking."  His analogy about this tech-driven world was, "We're only five years away from Siri and Watson (of Jeopardy super-computer fame) getting married."  School should not be about accessing a data bank of knowledge.  Amen!

 
Have you heard of the PBS show History Detectives?  I really want to start watching it.  They are doing the work of  making theories, organizing and uncovering evidence, interpreting, writing historical narratives, and engaging in discussion and debate.  This is history "as a verb" as one presenter explained it.


Mostly I realized my district is already doing a lot of things right, which is always a good thing to take away.  All in all, it was a great way to feel up to date with current social studies pedagogy and a good time bonding with a few colleagues who attended.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Personal Essays

We're in full swing of our first writing project, Personal Essays.  They're going well and I'm super impressed with the writers in my classroom this year.  We have topics ranging from "My mom has taught me how to care for others," to "Even though moving is hard, it can also be exciting," to "Football has shown me how to have teamwork and responsibility."  I'm loving the one on one conferences I've gotten to have so far with my writers on their various topics.

For mini lessons, we've been working on a series of structure/ drafting lessons.  I'm pumped to be sharing them on TpT.  Check them out and let me know what you think!

Not the prettiest wall chart....but good stuff the students discovered after reading sample essays.


 What are your students writing these days?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Treasured Books

I finally got around to a project I've wanted to do for years. Meet my "Treasured Book" treasure chest ($10 on sale at Hobby Lobby). This is where I'm keeping any book we read-aloud as a shared text. It will be growing all year as we explore more books together.

The hope is that I'll have a collection of books, characters, settings, etc. to readily reference during reading workshop or student conferences. It's already been fun to see students selecting a book to revisit from it during independent reading time. (We can't seem to get enough "Scaredy Squirrel!") This weekend I helped make it official with my fancy ribbon n' rhinestone tag!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"Rules"

We are so blessed to be gearing up for a visit from the wonderful author of the book Rules, Cynthia Lord.  Have you read it?  I highly recommend this story of a girl named Catherine and her struggles with accepting and embracing her brother with autism. 

We just started reading it at school and are PUMPED to watch class community develop around the book's theme of acceptance and just as PUMPED to meet Cynthia Lord a month from today!


Our soon-to-be-BFF, Cindy
Co-worker shared this awesome article from "Cindy" (as we can officially call her after email exchanges).  It tells a little more about her writing and the influence raising her own daughter with autism provided.

Read more from Cindy's website here.  Can't wait to share more of the prep work that happens over the next month. 


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings

Today was a Tuesday for meetings! They all went really well, but with so much distracting me from the business of actually teaching and no end in sight, it's always helpful to have points of light amidst the crazy. Like a great email to fill my bucket from ATP (Awesome Teaching Partner) or some really positive encouragement from several parents at Open House tonight.

Or even a great book. Right now I'm totally digging Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. Her sardonic, witty memoir has me closing the day with a smile at the crazy stuff of life when I read before bed. Highly recommend it (but NOT to share with kiddos or the faint of heart. Her dad was quite the inventive taxidermist I'll just say)!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Story People


 
My sister is a huge fan of Brian Andreas, the insightful poet/artist and creator of Story People. His work can be seen in many galleries and gift shops and also on his site here.

It's lovely and powerful and full of simple yet profound truths.  Today I've been thinking about Andreas' story "Listening for the Future."  It is speaking to me right now partly because sister is moving today and I always think of her in relation to Story People.  Mostly I'm thinking of it in relation to some of my students with autism this year.

 
 
{"Listening for the Future," Brian Andreas}
 
The world can be so full of noise.  My students with autism remind me to slow down and pay attention to all the details of life that often get overlooked.  The way a room smells, the way a crowd sounds, even the details of someone's outfit can be overwhelming and yet make life so interesting. 
 
Hmm...profound or cheesy?
 
I'll leave you with some other lovely Story People quotes that make me think of teaching for your viewing pleasure.  I hope your day gives you a moment or two to let the details of life surprise you.
 
{"Growing Fast," Brian Andreas} 
 
Open large picture
 
{"Laughter and Children," Brian Andreas}
 
Open large picture
{"Real Reason," Brian Andreas} 


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Where Does Writing Hide?

The lovely Georgia Heard in her book Writing Towards Home, has a prompt called "Where Does Writing Hide."  She starts with with this poem:

Valentine for Ernest Mann
by Naomi Shihab Nye

You can't order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, "I'll take two"
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn't understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.



Heard goes on to challenge writers to search for the places that writing hides for them.  To me, this remains one of my favorite beginning of the year writing prompts.  My students follow me on a search through and around our school as we create a list in our notebooks of places we found hidden writing. 

Then I have each student choose one line, record it on a post-it, and we each share out our one line.  The resulting wrap-around is a lovely poem in itself.
 
 
{sorry the title got cut off}
Check out these lines:
In the sparkle of the silver earring
in the warm bricks of my old school
in the white, cold, glowing snow*
in the fire of the blazing sun
in the soft, colorful feather of a peacock*
in the prickly feel of a cactus in flip flops
in the pages of a book
 

Hopefully we'll add to our lovely poem as the year goes.
 
 
 
*Editor's note- I have NO idea where my students saw snow or peacocks.  We've got some good imaginations!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Team T-shirt Remix

Every year our team creates a shirt to wear for field trips, assemblies, and special events like field day. And every year, I end up with one more t-shirt in the stack.

A few years ago I came up with the semi-brilliant idea (if I do say so myself) of up-cycling those shirts into a pillow. This solution is not only great for providing comfy cushions for independent reading times, but students also delight in seeing the names on the back of siblings, friends, or neighbors.

Today I worked on the latest edition that will go in the room tomorrow.

{Shirt design courtesy of Image Market}
 
Easy and cute (if I do say so myself).


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Teachers Pay Teachers


 
Have you heard of Teachers Pay Teachers?  It's a pretty awesome site with great resources.  It's based on the philosophy that the best teacher materials come from other teachers. Most items require a few dollar charge to download, but any I have paid for have been outstanding and very comprehensive.  Plus there are 40,000+ FREE items. 

Teachers Pay Teachers

Files can range from lesson plans, to classroom signs, to fun and exciting projects (ATP and I used this end of the year celebration last year) and had a blast with it.



I am so excited to have sold my first product on TpT just this week.  I am still VERY, VERY new at adding products (one of the summer goals I didn't quite get to), but it seems like a great way to make a few extra dollars off of items I have already worked on creating.  Check out my file "Incorporating the Arts into Writing" here.

Let me know if you find other good stuff I should look into.