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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Slice of Life ~ Connecting on a Tuesday

Good thing that I don’t go shopping very often - I may need to find a second job. Today sure was fun though; spent some time with one of my favorite shopping partners. A couple years ago we started a back to school shopping tradition (we are both teachers) and found that we are very compatible consumers. We’re like two little girls picking out our first day of school outfits, shoes, and maybe even a new purse. With nothing really in mind today, we perused Marshall’s home department scooping up some deals and having a good chat as we filled our carts. The time flew by with just enough time left for lunch. Last time out, we had to plan a second day when we ran out of time for lunch. Going out to eat and lingering over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, we get lost in conversation. Connecting with a treasured friend was just what I needed to put a smile on my face and some balance back in my life.

~I get by with a little help from my friends. John Lennon~

Friday, February 18, 2011

Poetry Friday!

Earlier in the week, I mentioned my anticipation of extra reading time next week. We talked about making plans for time away from the school routine. Today seemed like an appropriate time to revisit stamina and voracious reading. Oh, we had a great conversation in the classroom today. First I asked for thoughts about stamina and gradually the conversation steered to reading stamina. As students responded, I recorded their comments on the Smart Board. Like that first cup of morning coffee out poured their responses. Tonight as I was reflecting, I wove their ideas into the draft below…a work in progress. Surely their revisions will be full of fresh ideas.
Devouring books
sharks scouring the shore.
Momentum growing.
We are hockey forwards
ready to score.
We are in the zone
lured and hooked
on just the right book.
We have caught the bug.
We’re addicted to reading.

Voracious readers
meeting new authors
discovering new genres,
exploring new places,
greeting new faces.
Expanding horizons,
Spreading our wings,
Soaring the skies.
Ravenous readers!

Head over to Great Kid Books for this week's Poetry Friday gathering.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Oh Baby, It's Cold Outside!! Slice of Life Tuesday

Head over to Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesday.

Brr, it’s really cold out. So blowy, so snowy, “so frigid that your nose hairs freeze” cold! So cold that we come home at night and hunker down like hibernating bears.

It’s been so wintry recently that we have not even been out on Fridays. Surely something extreme is going on when we break the TGIF routine. Oh how I look forward to the end of the week dilemma – where are we going for dinner? I am often the restaurant picker and I lean towards local, one-of- a kind establishments. Perhaps I have a future as food critic.

When the warm evenings return, the restaurant choice must offer outdoor seating. We have a couple summer preferences on the Finger Lakes. Actually, the most memorable part of these evenings is the “before- dinner “time – lingering over a cold beverage and an appetizer. For a couple of hours, it almost feels like we are on vacation.

My mind has been wandering to warmer places all day. Just like James Taylor sings… In my mind I’ve gone to Carolina…This afternoon, my mini -lesson on adding details and surprising description was modeled with a piece about the beach. I really am ready to stretch and creep out of our winter cave.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Angels Singing - Slice of Life Story

Music is an important part of my life. Most times I would rather listen to music than have on the television (unfortunately, my husband does not agree.) However, I love Palladia, a cable channel that features live performances by a variety of current performers. If you are a Springstein fan, you really should try to catch his concert filmed in Barcelona, Spain. Check your guide as this show is scheduled again for at least one date in February. Way up on my “Bucket List” is learning to play the piano…maybe this summer I will take a stab at it. We have a piano standing proudly in the living room waiting for a tuning and some music making.

How about music in the classroom? I love the way primary teachers have songs for transitions, rhymes for word study, songs for the seasons, and so on. As a fourth grade teacher, we sometimes will sing around the December holidays, on birthdays, or patriotic songs for Flag Day. However, since day one I have played music my classroom. I first started listening to classical music when I was in college. It was just what I needed to calm me and enhance my concentration. Therefore, it seemed like a good fit for the classroom. Often these instrumental selections are by pianist, George Winston, one of my favorites. I also have a few instrumental Pandora channels. Students respond to the soothing quality and many times someone will remind me if I happen to forget to put it on during reading and writing workshop. Last Friday, I lightened it up a tad and chose something with vocals. A wonderful calm settled in the classroom. When I asked students at the end of writing workshop for some feedback, they loved the change and assured me it was not distracting. Who doesn’t love Jason Mraz or a little James Taylor?

Music has also made its mark during a classroom routine called “Brain Gym”. The fabulous occupational and physical therapists in our building have developed videos that incorporate short bursts of movement to music. Each routine begins and ends with yoga-like exercises with higher intensity sandwiched in between. The research based programs feature different cross lateral movements that stimulate the brain. Each one is between five and six minutes long. Children love “Brain Gym” and hustle through math clean-up with anticipation. About a week ago, we tried a new routine that featured “cool” “today” music. WOW, almost instantly twenty five voices joined together in song. There’s something about children singing that can bring me to tears in a heartbeat. These beautiful voices singing “Fireflies” by Owl City was just what I needed. I was mesmerized by this moment of unity. It also reminded me that they are nine and ten year old children. Moments like this come along at just the right time and whisper to my heart…slow down…celebrate… savor the small moments.
More to come about inferring with “Fireflies” in a future post that will feature on our thinking about the song… our “reading between the lines” to understand the lyrics of this beautiful song (poem.)

Head over to Two Writing Teachers for more Tuesday Slice of Life Stories.