If you want to teach me to write, first you have to love me. ~AVI

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday Slice

This has been a fabulous summer, an old-fashioned hot sweaty summer. I love the laid back feeling of summer. I can’t get enough of the outdoors – morning coffee and every possible meal on the deck; walks with my dog, Grace; visiting with friends and family; gardening, floating in the pool; and lazy lake afternoons. Often times with coffee in one hand, you will find me hunkered down in a comfy spot with my other hand clutching a good book.
My summer selections have left me with many fond memories and connections to my “teaching life”. In a bit, I will finish up a gem, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. Like the other books and characters Creech has created, I have fallen in love with Sal who tells the story of her longing heart and the heartache of her best friend, Phoebe. During her journey with her grandparents she becomes even wiser as she shares her stories with them. “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins” is one of several messages that teach lessons to both the characters and readers of Walk Two Moons. As always, I will share my love of Sharon Creech and will surely recommend this book. I am not sure yet if it will be a class read aloud, but there are several passages that I will flag for mini-lessons.
Another book that left its mark on me long after I read the last page was Leaving Gee’s Bend by Irene Latham. Ludelphia a young quilter wise beyond her 10 years of life tells the story of her family’s joys and struggles living in a small Alabama town during the Great Depression. Quilting is deep in her bones, a source of nourishment, it’s therapy, and a way for Ludelphia to make sense of the world around her. Early in the book, Ludelphia flashes back to the accident that left her blind in one eye. “I may have only one eye that works, but I got to tell you it works real good.” “It’s like you was born to stitch,” Ludelphia’s mama tells her. I love the voice of Ludelphia and the voice she gives to other female characters in the book. Of course, as a quilter I also was drawn to the quotes about stitchin’. Ludelphia sees no need to sort fabric colors which seems to be a metaphor for life – “Seemed to me some of the best things just happened with no order to ‘em at all. But Mama, she believed in having a plan.” Ludelphia notices the world around her, a trait of great story tellers, writers, and quilters too. “…the clouds raced across the sky like they was in a contest with the river. They was in a hurry just like me.” As Ludelphia sets out on a journey to seek help for her ailing mother, having never left Gee’s Bend, she musters up the strength and bravery to fight for her family and her community. Thank you, Irene for a wonderful story and also for the give-away book, Three Rivers Rising (more on this book later.)
Summer’s winding down. I will savor the remaining days and reading that I can squeeze in, but am ready to get to know my new learners and savor good writing together!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Poetry Friday!

This week I have chosen to share a poem by Bobbi Katz from a poetry book that I recently added to my collection: Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems edited by Georgia Heard. Earlier this week, I selected this poem to read with my "tutee" and we decided the main character in our book would love it too. We are reading Where I Live by Eileen Spinelli with illustrations by Matt Phelan. It is a lovely little book written in verse, narrated by a young girl who likes to write poems and loves learning about space.

Choosing a poem or other piece of text and saying, "Hey, I saw this and it reminded me of you" or "I thought you would like this," is something we naturally do as lovers of the written word. What a fun literacy connection to extend this idea to book characters that we get to know! Students could clip poems inside the book cover or perhaps some sort of bulletin board display could be created...hmmm... it's that time of year when the wheels are turning with ideas! Happy belated Poetry Friday! Visit Zsofia at The Stenhouse Blog for the Poetry Friday roundup this week.

“Things to do if you are the Sun”
By Bobbi Katz

Let planets loop around you.
Be Earth’s very own star.
Keep things warm enough for people.
Keep things cool enough for penguins.
Slip away to end the day.
Light the moon at night.
Let people and animals sleep.
And at the crack of dawn,
wake up the world!

Copyright c 2007 by Bobbi Katz.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Poetry Friday!

Happy Poetry Friday. Today I am sharing a poem written by my summer student and I told in the voice of a great white shark. We have been reading more about the great white this week and I having been watching some of the Shark Week programs on the Discovery Channel. Fascinating, but a bit too graphic for young children. Be sure to visit Author Amok for this week's gathering of wonderful poetry.

Many THANKS to Irene Latham and the Teaching Authors. I won two books this week!! I am so very excited and will be sure to blog about them both. So generous ~ this blogging community.

Great White Shark
By Hannah & Mrs. A.
I’m the king of the ocean.
I have been swimming in the sea since before dinosaurs roamed the earth.
You might see my dorsal fin out of the water.
I swim with my tooth-filled mouth wide open.
I am always searching with my huge bold eyes even when I was a baby.
My eyesight is excellent even in cloudy dark waters.
I have a super sense of smell.
I lurk deep in the ocean or shallow seashores hunting for my next meal.
I wear camouflage to protect myself from a few predators
But rarely am I hunted.
It’s true,
I’m the scary beast feasting on fish, seals, or other sharks.
That’s why I am the GREAT WHITE SHARK!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mid-Summer Reflecting

When summer vacation started I thought hmm why not set a reading goal; so many others are doing it. I should push myself with a new challenge. In March I wrote a slice a day. I came close to 30 poems during poetry month. Well I am falling way behind on a book a day. I could catch up if I sit down with a stack of picture books and I do have a basket that came home with me on the last day of school plus a growing list of recommended titles. Therefore I may finish the race, but not in record time. After all, shouldn’t I practice what I preach? Reading is not a race and I am not a fast reader. In fact the more I think about writing, read about writing, read like a writer, and read like a teacher of writing I am actually reading more slowly. Don’t get me wrong I still love to get lost a good book. There’s nothing like a good “beach” read, but I am a different reader today – a reader that slows down, rereads, and savors good writing. Perhaps I need to set a goal that is a good fit for me as a learner. In the meantime I will continue to savor summer with a good book every chance I get!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bouquet Time

This little poem came to me late last night. Fresh flowers on the table are a wonderful treat anytime of the year, but I love little hand picked summer bouquets or even a single bloom in a teeny tiny vase or cup. These simple arrangements always remind me of little voices saying, "Here mommy, I picked this just for you!"

Bouquet Time
Remember when,
Your chubby hands
held stubby stems
of beautiful blooms.
Picked with care
for me from YOU!