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.