DigiLit Challenge

I was challenged by Margaret Simon to create a work of art from an image of nature.



Today I'm celebrating raising children who can do things on their own. 

My 9 year old son is heading off this morning to NH with a friend and his family. He is both nervous and excited. I am not a fan of sleepover dates, so he hasn't been on more than 2 or 3. I think people sleep better in their own beds. However my son has struggled with making friends since moving to our new town and this friend of his has made him happy all year. So when his mom called to invite my son for a one night trip to a hotel with an arcade, I said yes. I can tell that he is not 100% certain it will go well, but the fact that my sometimes anxious child is doing it anyway makes me feel great. I really think that if our kids always think we will be there to stop them from crossing the street while a car is coming (so to speak), then they stop looking for themselves. As hard as it is to watch as our children need us less, I feel it is the mark of good parenting.


What Lies Inside

I'm joining Two Writing Teachers as I do every Tuesday to share my Slice of Life.

This morning I'm wearing a necklace my husband bought for me at the New York Public Library. It is a silver disc with a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote engraved around the circle. 
What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.
I think of my writing notebook as a place which holds what lies inside of me. When I re-read sections of my notebook, I am transported back to a time I tend to have forgotten. 

So recently I thought of a way to help my students and many other students find what lies inside of them. I am going to buy a journal and a book for each of my students. I plan to help them see some ways they can record their lives over the summer. My hope is that they will forever hold their 8 year old lives in a notebook they can return to again and again.

This is my slice of life today because in so many ways I cannot separate who I am from who my students are. I love that teaching, writing, and reading are the quilt squares of my life. The people I meet and teach are the stitches. I cannot have one without the other.

I teamed up with Amy Ludwig Vanderwater to get teachers and writers and illustrators to contribute a page of their notebooks and share a cool idea with kids. The ideas can be found here



When I first read Ruth Ayres book CELEBRATING WRITERS, I loved it. The celebration I am sharing today is that now I am living it. This is a huge difference. I started a poetry unit with my second graders and I made a conscious decision to celebrate every approximation each child made toward poetry. Isn't this what we do when children learn to walk or talk? "You said Mmmm! You are AMAZING! Isn't my child AMAZING? Listen to her say Mmmm again." It is with these constant celebrations that we create an environment where children want to keep producing sounds. Why not do this with writing? Don't we want them to keep producing words?

So I began. We wrote every single day. We shared every single day. This time though my only requirement was that the focused target from the mini-lesson was attempted. Not perfected. Attempted. So if I taught everyone to write similes and someone wrote that snow is like an ice cube, we applauded. Great job! We said, you tried it out.

I have one student who used to put his head down and cry during every Writing Workshop. Every single one. This child began to write poetry. The first share, he was quiet but when we followed his reading with a celebration his eyes crinkled up and looked at me as if he had just witnessed a tiny fairy disappear behind a secret door in the base of a tree. He proceeded to sneak over to take poetry paper home at night. He asked to bring a clipboard out at recess so he could write poetry. He invited another non-writer to co-author poems about animals after I did a mini-lesson on science poetry.

Each Friday I put Lucy Calkins on the side for Writing Workshop and we do a Slice of Life instead. I think this helps keep Small Moment narrative writing fresh and alive all year. In addition, it helps them tell the stories they don't always get called on to tell during the week. I wondered if this boy was going to write or if poetry was his safe zone. But write he did. He wrote a beautiful story about the school book fair and how when he introduced me to his mother I said, "Oh you are the mother of the writer." He finished his piece by writing--I am a Writer...and I wasn't one before.

Celebrate Indeed.


My Hummingbird

I never cared for birds.
Hardly even considered them.
We went to the mountains
and stayed in a cabin
with four, four! hummingbird feeders
strung along the gutters outside
the picture window.
I watched, well...stared
at those hummingbirds all week long.
I couldn't get enough, sad to see
them leave as each night came on.

So when I hung the bright red feeder
with the clear bulbous top
outside my screened in porch
back at my own home,
I hoped, but couldn't fathom
that those tiny miraculous
hummingbirds knew what humans
considered feeders.
It was not out there, though, for five minutes, when
I heard the hum
of his wings.
And's hard to get me to come indoors.
I never cared for birds.
Hardly even considered them.
I fell in love with them.



You taunt me, 
Shocking me.
Stealing my balance.

You bully me.
Stopping me.
Robbing my time.


Our Theories, Disguised Autobiographies

"Our theories are really disguised autobiographies, often rooted in childhood." 
                                                  Minds Made for Stories, Thomas Newkirk, 2014.
It is this opening line (from a book I'm studying with the Maine Writing Project) that stops me in my tracks. Newkirk probably wants me to read on, but I stop. 

Are my theories really disguised autobiographies? If this is true, do I put books into the hands of everyone I meet and know because they were put in mine? I like to think I came up with this stuff on my own, but I think we all (especially us Slicers) know all that we do is deeply rooted.

When my new books arrived yesterday from both Amazon and Heinemann, I was thrilled. I also felt a bit of panic that I would have to choose one over another as I read through them. I am often torn by how much there is to read and write about. 
How will I decide? How will I tell my favorite son Reading that I must spend more time with my favored daughter Writing? It is the Sophie's Choice of my life. Today I get to read and write for most of the day because I am home not feeling well, but well enough to read and write. I will also be at the doctor's office which is a guaranteed time to read.