Friday, August 26, 2011

So, something's gotta give, right?

In my SOLS piece today, one of my earlier sentiments is 
"So, something's gotta give, right?".
And, in writing it, something did ---
the spelling.
Readers and fellow writers, I apologize.
I should be sentenced to dictionary reading 
as penance for my earlier linguistic transgressions.
They're fixed now.
Enjoy, and have a tremendous weekend.

Write on,

My ninth slice-of-life story...

A moving side effect...

I'll admit; boxes bury most everything at my house right now.
Our evenings are well-intended:
we're trying to pack the contents of our house into the scores of textbook boxes
rescued from my school's loading dock;
we're trying to give our toddler as much attention as possible
in the tiny window of fun between daycare and bedtime;
we're trying to cook a dinner that tastes like I spent an hour on it instead of a paltry ten minutes.

So, something's gotta give...right?
Currently, it's all the random items blanketing once clean surfaces around our house.
Flattened boxes piled high like pancakes, squatty candles lined atop the antique buffet,
misplaced napkin rings intermixed.

Little hands like mess.  It's a simple fact.
Especially the haphazard candle display in our dining room right now.
The other night, packing profitability birthed a new writing opportunity for Reid:
wax on window.

I wish I could've been watching from our front lawn
to see the look of writing joy in his eyes;
but the proud proclamations I heard from the kitchen
swept me away.

"R, E, I, D.  That spells name."  (giggle)

Pause: dinner, packing, (anger), mail, dishwasher.

Gliding over slippery floors, I made it to the living room to see.
Wax on the window; my child's first writers notebook.

"That spells my name," he announced...almost cooing.

"You're right, buddy.  There's an R, E, I, D.  Those letters work together to make your name."

I'll get the razor blade later to scrape off the superfluous window wax.
For now, I love seeing my little writer's work.
It's a moving side effect...

Write on,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My eighth slice-of-life story...

We've been reading since day one.
Well, before that.
More like ab initio.
     In utero.

Six months ago, Iza Trapani's Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star became a staple.
R recited each line (even the made-up verses) when prompted with the first word.
He sang along.
     In tune.

Tonight, we read Little Polar Bear Take Me Home before bed.
Probably for the 113th time.
It's a big book.
     In pages and in content.

The challenge cloze sentence: Lars laughed with...
Astonishment (with *gasp* sound effects from my little reader).

     In caps and in wonder.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A seat at the table...

First grade writing from workshop yesterday!

So, I've been doing a lot of thinking about how we welcome our writers and build classroom communities.  Ruth Ayres blogged about this recently (, a conversation has started in my elementary building, and teachers are keeping this at the forefront as minilessons are written.  We like to strategize, being uber intentional about the choices we make, the words we use, and our sequence of teaching points.  But, despite all this, I still wasn't prepared for what I heard in a first grade writer's workshop yesterday.

A normal day in this community of writers, Sadie's (a pseudonym) teacher let me know from the start she was doing exceptional work and that I should pull up beside her to see for myself.  I did, with smiles and fanfare, to see what this writer was up to.  Page numbers.  Sadie explained that she noticed page numbers in every book she read, so that must be what writers do when they have more than one page in a story.

OK.  Brilliant.  Second week of writer's workshop in first grade.  I like her moxie (and keen attention to how books work)!

As we poured through the ten (yes, ten) pages of her book, we landed on the one pictured above.  Sadie read, "I love my teacher" and then began to explain her picture.  Initially, I wasn't making the connection between her lovely teacher and the table.  "A table?"  "Tell me more about this table," I invited.

"My teacher gave me a seat at the table.  I don't have a seat at a table at home to do my writing."

Silence; my eyes found the floor, shutting tightly for a second.

"Then where do you eat," I couldn't help but prod a bit.

"At the table," Sadie strangely looked my way.

"Well, then why don't you write on your table at home too?" I reasoned.

"Because.  It is dirty.  I don't want to ruin my work."  Another obvious answer from the mind of a child.

My colleague gave this writer a seat at the table.  It's basic.  It's metaphorical.  It's deep.  And, it all started with a space to invent, to grow, to do the big important work she had running through her mind and heart.

Fifteen minutes in this first grade writer's workshop took my understanding of how we welcome writers to a whole new level.  We can spend time, money, and intellectual capital preparing for the students we inherit at school's start; but, it is also the things we can't quantify, imagine, or predict that will (sometimes) make the biggest impact.

Like a clean table at which to work...  Thank you, Sadie.

Write on,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My seventh slice-of-life story...

State Fair snack booth signage...

Fried is nice; fried is better
But sometimes, fried is just fried.

Who knows how to fry Kool-Aid?

French fries,
onion rings and string cheese,
chicken on a stick,
mushrooms, pickles, pizza, pie
donuts, peppers, chips

Fried foods down the midway,
fried foods in the car,
fried foods in the pantry,
fried foods are the star.

Fish filets,
Snickers candy bars,
butter, Oreos, Twinkies,
the tenderloin, by far

Fried foods down the midway,
fried foods in the car,
fried foods in the pantry,
fried foods are the star.

But, Kool-Aid?

(I'm still trying to figure this one out!)

Write on,

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My sixth slice-of-life story...

This is my first week at school for 2011-2012 and I'm swerving back into my routine!  (Which is why my SOLS is two days late; but, better late than never, right?)

Planning some staff development, I've been playing around with the Margaret Wise Brown's classic text, The Important Book.  We're using her succinct, clean style as a writing mentor for a team-building activity.  And, it's gotten me thinking about the other areas of my life and work I could apply her timeless masterpiece as a springboard for my own pieces. 

The natural choice, this week, to write about is: (you guessed it) SCHOOL.  Don't you love the humongous grins and palpable enthusiasm as students enter the building that first morning, knowing that the year is going to be one of wonder and growth?

The important thing about
starting school is that
the students are excited to be back again.
They are smiling from ear to ear,
they have backpacks jam-packed with supply treasures,
they are dressed in spotless starched uniforms,
and walk with increasing speed down halls full of promise,
but the important thing about
school is that the students are excited to be back again.

We love what we do because of these grins; I know I do.  The excitement is contagious. :)  Let's tether ourselves to the anticpation students will bring with them.  After all, it is our true north.

Write on,