Saturday, December 6, 2014

Demanding Dudley: A Review

If you know me it is clear that my utmost purpose in my classroom is to build community and kinder kids. I am always on the lookout for books that emulate this message of kindness and courtesy toward others. Recently I was given the book, Demanding Dudley written by Deneen Renae and illustrated by Leslie Pinto, part of a series of books called The Wiblets. This book peeks inside the power of using our magic words, "please" and "thank you."

Dudley is a comical monster who demands things from his mother.

Like most good moms, she responds gently with a reminder, ""Is someone being a demanding Dudley?"

The book introduces children to words like, appreciated and thankful, explaining their meanings and how they make others feel.
I would recommend this book to parents and teachers (prek-2) when helping children learn the power of kindness and being mindful of how we talk to others.
Here is an excerpt from the book:

The book can be purchased from The Wiblets webpage. Every purchase from their website contributes to the charity, The Hawn Foundation.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Chalk-A-Bration November 2014

This month's poem was inspired by something I saw on Facebook. A piece written by Naomi Shihab Nye. Read it here.

The world 
we live in…
This is the world I want to live in
A world of 

I hope you will share your own chalk poetry today and find inspiration to share with others. Link below in the comments!
For more information on Chalk-A-Bration, click the tab above labeled Chalk-A-Bration. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Chalk-A-Bration October 2014

Happy Halloween! 
Today is Chalk-A-Bration, a celebration of chalk and poetry the last day of each month. This week we wrote a ghostly poem and students did chalk illustrations.

I asked students, "Tell me, what are some things ghosts will do or say?" Below is a list of their ideas made into a list poem. Then students took that idea and made their own illustrations for the poem.

Some students even tried to put some letters and words from the poem on their paper!

Here are all the chalker!

I hope you will join in for Chalk-A-Bration by leaving your link in the comments!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chalk-A-Bration September 2014

It's been a fun few weeks in kindergarten! We have been chalking about the moon using a favorite poem from Amy Ludwig Vanderwater  at The Poem Farm as our inspiration!

Here is the poem we used from Amy:


And here we are chalking some stars to go with our moon and poem!
Here is our hallway display of the moon, stars and poem!

Join in the chalking fun here in the comments. Link your chalk and visit the other chalkers!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Prepare To Be Emazed!

A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a new tool for presentations called Emaze. It is much like Prezi but even faster and easier to make a presentation for your next session, classroom lesson or frankly just for fun. I sipped my coffee and made a presentation in about fifteen minutes. Simple! There are great templates and some Emaze presentations already created that offer inspiration. The other nice feature is you can make them private or public, as opposed to Prezi where all presentations are public. Very nice should you want your content to be viewed only by certain audiences and not shared.

Check it out and see if you can be Emazed!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Chalk-A-Bration August 2014

It's here again! I am sure many of you are getting ready or have already started school. I start on Tuesday and can't wait to share Chalk-A-Bration with a new batch of kiddos. Here is my chalk for the day. If you missed July's post I included all the chalk dates and links to shirts! Get a shirt!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chalk-A-Bration July 2014

Chalk dust 
like seeds
planting poetry.

Go out and plant some poems with chalk today! Link it up here and visit the other chalkers. 

How about a shirt?
Chalk-A-Bration now has shirts to let you show off your chalky selves. Here are some links to get to the shop and some customized shirts too (men's short sleeve, women's short sleeve, women's long sleeve)!

Would you like the dates for all the upcoming Chalk-A-Bration celebrations?
Here they are!

Sunday, August 31st
Tuesday, September 30th
Friday, October 31st
Sunday, November 30th
Wednesday, December 31st
Saturday, January 31st
Saturday, February 28th
Tuesday, March 31st
Thursday, April 30th
Sunday, May 31st
Tuesday, June 30th
Friday, July 31st

Monday, June 30, 2014

Chalk-A-Bration June 2014

Check out the new image for Chalk-A-Bration! Hope you like it. Copy and paste to your post today if you like!

I did some camping this past week at my favorite state park near Lake Michigan. I love it there. It has everything. Bike trails, walking trails, beach for miles, a river, a smaller lake in the middle of the park and of course ice cream at every camp store. What could be better? I found myself feeling refreshed after a long school year and a busy summer ahead; it was a nice break. 
While on the beach I made a very organic display of the word Poetry. Loved it! It's hard to see on the sandy background but you can just make it out. 

But, now onto the chalk. I decided to do a throwback to one of my first chalked poems back before Chalk-A-Bration even existed. It is still a favorite. 

Link up your chalk in the comments! Here comes July!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Chalk-A-Bration May 2014

HI Chalkers! Hope you are having a great end to your school year. I still have a couple weeks to go but we are still chalking and having a great time together.
I recently discovered Prezi and put together a little presentation about Chalk-A-Bration. It is very simple but was fun to put together. Click to view and see the Chalk-A-Bration videos from yesterday's celebration!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chalk-A-Bration April 2014

Chalk-A-Bration snuck up on me this month. There has been so much poem love going on and poetry writing in all my corners of life that I wasn't realizing how quickly it would all end. But it doesn't have to! Join in each month right here for a poetry celebration with chalk.

Here is my contribution for the month. I wrote it in the rain. I am hoping to get my students out today to chalk our poems but rain may defeat us. Might need to get creative!

Water streams
thick dust
chalk puddles. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Chalk-A-Bration March 2014

YAY! It is finally here. Spring has arrived and I cannot think of anything else, especially when I write. 
I hope you will join in with a piece of chalk and a chunk of sidewalk in your own neck of the woods to share with us here! Just write a poem or illustration, take a photo and link it up here from your blog!

My two shares and some of my children's work is below. I haven't seen my kids this excited about chalking in a LONG time. They were squealing when I told them it was time for chalk!

 I love 
the warm sun

 The neighbors even joined in a bit! 

 A road leading later to some hopscotch!

bike ride
sun chased
red faced
clear sky
happy sigh
"Spring's here,"
I cheer!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Know Your Higher Self

Earlier in the week I sliced about talking to Barry Lane on the phone. Since then I have begun to implement some of the ideas from his new book, Force Field for Good. I am so excited by this program and its message. Imagine if we all chose to be our higher selves, what a world it would be!

We scrapped our old rule chart and drew pictures of ourselves. I connected them in a circle writing our one and only classroom rule, Be Your Higher Self. It makes me a little teary every time I look at the chart. It reminds me what a group we have become and how connected we are, like a family. Here is our chart:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I Am Your New Biggest Fan

I was in the hallway this afternoon talking with the preschool teacher down the hall. I had actually walked in from the playground with her class after seeking her out. We were chatting about preschool writers when I looked down. There, at his locker, was a little guy with a pen and a small notebook. He was intensely writing something down. Here was the conversation:
Me: Whisper, "Oh my goodness, I love this."
Her: "I know." Directed toward him, "Okay, I think snack is waiting for us in the classroom."
Him: "I know, I just have to get this in here."
Her: "What are you writing?'
Him: "I just saw an eagle and I have to get it in my notebook before I forget."
Her: "Oh, okay."
I watched for a moment, then I couldn't help myself.
Me: "What is your name?"
Him: "James." He doesn't look up, I am clearly interrupting important work. Really, what was I thinking? So I continued to watch a moment. He cleaned up his notebook.
I put my hand out, "James, I am your new biggest fan. Do you think when we see each other we could give each other a thumbs up since we are both in the super awesome writing club?"
He shakes my hand, a little stunned, "Well, I like animals. My book is all about animals. Like at least 100, or least."
Me: "Can you count to 20?"
Him: "Almost!"
Me: "Well, keep writing about those animals James."

I don't usually visit the afternoon preschool class, so James was new to me. His enthusiasm for writing is clear. He is a writer. I've been giddy ever since.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

"Tell Your Story. If You Don't, Who Will?" ~Colby Sharp

Here is a little take away from the MRA conference I attended yesterday. I went to a session with Colby Sharp, Linda Urban, Katherine Applegate and Lisa McMann. Their message was to write, take risks and not to be afraid of failing. Not everything you write will be or needs to be groundbreaking. Stop trying to be perfect and make a mistake right away so the writing stays real.

This made me think of one of my notebooks. When I got it and started writing in it I wanted it to stay perfect. Then I made a mistake on the first page. I decided at that moment it didn't matter. However, my initial feelings were this notebook will stay beautiful. Then I realized beauty wasn't going to mean flawless.

The session was very inspiring and on my drive home last night this is what swirled in my head:

"Writing notebooks are a playground and safe." Linda Urban
"Don't be discouraged, you're making a difference every single minute." Lisa McMann
"Everything you do matters." Katherine Applegate

The session ended with a statement from Colby Sharp that teachers are awesome. He encouraged teachers to, "Tell your story. If you don't, who will?" I couldn't agree more. Blogging and talking with others about what we are doing in our classrooms is the only way to shift the eyes of those looking down on teachers these days.

So, get yourself a notebook, make it a playground where you can kick dirt around and it's okay. Write about your frustrations in education these days and then write about what you are doing to change kids lives. Write about what you do to make a difference every single minute. Write what matters, because in the end it's the people. What we do to shape them matters more than any shifting eyes or judgmental glances. Your students matter, you matter and so does your story.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Book!

I got a new book in the mail today! Seeing the Blue in Between compiled by Paul B. Janeczko.
I'm almost halfway through it and really enjoy how quickly it reads. It is a book of advice and inspiration for young poets on their writing journey. There are 32 letters, written to the reader, throughout the book written by acclaimed poets who share a bit of their own poetry journey or tell young poets to be brave and write on. Each shares advice and then a poem or three follows. There are a lot of things I like about the book so far but my favorite is hearing the different voices from each poet. They each have a unique way of sharing this hopeful poetic message. They talk about their youth, their failures and moments of wonder. They share where they themselves find poems and how to look for them. I wish I had this book about twenty some years ago when I was a teen. It would have been nice to hear advice from these poets. I might have carried on with writing as a kid instead of stopping.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Conference Night Poem

I'm sitting across from her.
She's tired, she's run down,
she's had enough and here I sit.
I sit with concern
as I see each crease in her eye
deepen with fatique and worry.
I care.
I wish for her.
I wish for her son.
I wish it were different.
She's tired.
She's done.
At a loss.
A sparkling tear, almost runs down
but she breathes and I grin
and we begin again.
But there are so many qualities he has going for him.
He has such a big heart.
We care for him and his success.
But it's hard
and though I'm tired
I might be run down
I am not done
and I will never stop
and I will be here everyday
showing up
for him
for you
and I will wish it
to be different.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Chalk is in the Air!

I look at a day like today and I start to see a thaw happening. Writable surfaces are once again revealing themselves. It delights me. My husband has been chopping ice on our driveway, preparing it. The sun was melting more of it, though the driveway is wet, I hope it will dry soon enough. I will need to be patient as we await another snow storm this week and freezing temps. However, I know a day like today means spring is also waiting. Waiting for its chance to be more than just a presence but a semi-permanent state.
Once it is here, I will no longer need to write my chalk poems on paper or easels. I will be able to abandon the little chalk boards in my classroom and I will be free to choose from sidewalks, driveways and parking lots anywhere (well, almost anywhere).
Let the chalketry commence, (soon anyway).

No idea why I have an affinity for chalk? I celebrate poetry the last day of each month with a chalked poem or illustration for any passerby to see. It is a fun way to celebrate poetry and playful chalk at the same time.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Chalk-A-Bration February 2014

It's here again! Chalk-A-Bration DAY! So glad you stopped by to visit and I hope you find somewhere and some way to chalk a little something today. I can hardly wait for spring chalking!

Just last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Dublin, OH for the Dublin Literacy Conference. I got to see old friends and even made some new ones too! While I was there I did a presentation on using poetry in the classroom. You might remember last month's chalk where I did a multi-leveled lesson and had the kids build a poem. Well, we did the same thing using a mentor text from George Ella Lyon and chalked our own Where I'm From poem.

If you haven't heard George Ella Lyon read Where I'm From, it is worth a listen and very inspiring. Below I have a video with Lyon doing the reading. It is quite unique.

Now onto the chalk! We started by talking literally about where we were from. Then we dug a little deeper. After listening to George Ella Lyon read where she is from, we were inspired. Those present wrote their own, Where I'm From, poem and chose their favorite line. 
Here, Tony Keefer, a new poetry friend, tapes his line onto the poem that the group built together.

Below is the completed chalk poem. 

Thankful for sadness,
mistakes and rebirth.
I'm from loving arms
I am from the connections of
friends and long stretches of
I am from playing with
in the evening hours.
I am from warm hugs
and licking the
batter off the spoon
I am from green
I am from pizza
Friday and summer camp.

Dublin was an amazing place to visit and have the experience of chalking together. I hope you will visit the other chalkers in the comments as well as all the Poetry Friday peeps!
Poetry Friday is hosted by Anastasia at Poet! Poet!

Quick addition:
I have a question for you, do you want to order a Chalk-A-Bration t-shirt? I am in the process of trying to decide if there is enough interest for ordering. Here is a view of what the t-shirt would look like if you would like to order one online. The downfall of this is there would be a limited time to order and the cost would be $30 (no profit). The other alternative is for me to make a shirt that is less expensive but could be ordered through me, shipped to you or sold when I get the chance to meet you at a conference. Let me know your thoughts on the idea!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Chalk-A-Bration January 2014

Welcome to the first Chalk-A-Bration of the year!

I had the pleasure of spending time in four different classrooms this week chalking poems. Yeah! How lucky am I? I visited, read poetry and assisted students in writing collaborative poems together in a unique activity. Here is the breakdown of my visits:

With each group I began by reading poetry appropriate to their grade level. 

Then students wrote in a small group, a pair or independently, a line of poetry about themselves. 

I wrote a title to their poem and students taped their lines to the title. 

When we had a finished product, students shared or I shared the poem with the rest of the class.

Here are some samples of the finished poems we created!

Kindergarten--A Classroom Collaboration. 

First Grade--A Classroom Collaboration.

Second Grade--Small Group Collaborations

Fourth Grade--Small Group Collaborations

Be sure to check out the chalkers in the comments below! I have blog posts here, there and everywhere today so I may not get back to round them up. Give those classrooms and chalkers some comment love by visiting their link.