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

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Books Don’t Leave Home Without One!

Winter break for me is catch-up time. Today was the day to check off a couple appointments from my “to-do” list. Sitting in the waiting room at my first appointment, reading on my Nook, and in walks a little boy and his dad. From the moment they walked in, the little guy was chattering to his dad who lovingly answered his questions.

Dad had paperwork to complete and sat down in a chair. Little guy suggested, “Sit over here daddy in the comfy seat.”
Dad stayed in the chair and little guy grabbed a magazine settled in on the comfy couch. He carefully flipped through Sports Illustrated, a task he was certainly at ease with. Little guy trotted over with SI in tow to ask Dad a couple questions. Dad paused and softly responded.  At three, maybe four years old, this little guy clearly has been blessed with experiences that have already enhanced his literacy growth.
After a few minutes Mom joined the boys in the waiting area. “Hi Mom!” Little guy snuggled up next to his mom who produced a book and began reading to him. He was immediately engaged. I was no longer engaged with my book, but totally entranced by this young reader. My last observation before being called back for my appointment was little guy making a prediction. “I think it was the pirate, mom.” I wanted to check on his age, but hated to interrupt their time together. If I am still in-tune with preschoolers, I would say that he was not quite four yet. 
I am usually prepared with a book or other tasks to keep me busy, so I really don’t mind waiting for a bit. If I happen to arrive empty handed, I will settle with one of the waiting room magazines. On more than one occasion, I have felt badly for little ones that have to wait with nothing to do and are told to sit quietly. I have many more years of waiting under my belt and still hate to wait without something to occupy me!

How often do we hear excuses for not reading with children? Or students who arrive with excuses for not completing homework or reading at night:

“I was out all night at…”

“Oh, we are so busy.”

“By the time we get home, there’s no time to read.”  

Today, waiting and watching, put a smile on my face. I loved observing the pleasure that little guy got from reading and interacting with his attentive parents. The take-away here is nothing new, but just a real live reminder of the value of READING! When caring parents want to know how to prepare their children for school, the answer is simply stated in a four letter word ~ READ! Or when summer vacation approaches and caring parents want to know what their children should do over the summer ~ READ is on the top of my short list! Books don’t leave home without one!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sowing the Seeds of Kindness

This week all across the country people are celebrating National Kindness Week. Our awesome case worker has planned some activities for students and teachers; the main feature of the week being a door decorating contest. Each classroom was given the task to choose a children's book that exemplified kindness and decorate the door accordingly. My students and I pored over stacks of books in the classroom. So many possibilities. How would we ever choose? We wanted everyone to take part in the door design, so that would be a determining factor. Through our literacy work together this year, students have been digging deeper for meaning, noticing metaphors and symbolism, so I was hoping to choose a title that nudged our thinking. We decided to mull it over for the weekend. Some time Saturday, during a browse through one of my favorite quilt shops, the book came to me. Hmmm, I thought how about Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney? The Lupine Lady a beloved character, finds a way later in life to make the world a more beautiful place, certainly a kind act.  As we talked about the book, we realized that The Lupine Lady made her mark in the world in many ways as she traveled, making friends and helping others. She was sowing the seeds of kindness long before she planted those lupine seeds. We found our book and children have been busy writing kindness quotes, decorating seed packets, making tissue paper lupines and much more. Of course, like so many projects, this has taken way longer than I anticipated, but like I told the children, I really don't mind. The work they are doing is priceless. We can catch up on math and science tomorrow.  Their words of kindness and satisfied feelings of accomplishment made it a memorable day for sure. "I can help with that." "I'm done, so what else can I do?" "Wow, that looks great!" "Our door is going to look great!" "I'm having so much fun, it doesn't even matter if we win." As one wise student said, sow the seeds of kindness wherever you go. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Getting Back in the Saddle Again

This will be my third time participating in the March Slice of Life writing challenge hosted by Ruth and Stacey at their blog TwoWritingTeachers.  My fourth grade writers are also gearing up for the month long challenge. These brilliant writers, along with the network of blogging writers associated with the Two Writing Teachers, inspire me to be better. I think about writing. I have ideas for writing. I jot down snippets of mentor text. I teach writing. I read about writing. I read like a writer. I feel like a much better teacher of writing when I live an active writing life. I feel like a much better person when I take the time to reflect, react, and remember in writing.  Therefore, I am jumping back in the saddle for March and hope that is just what I need to revive my quest for the write words.  It you want to join the writing adventure head over to TwoWritingTeachers blog for all the info.