Friday, October 31, 2014

Poetry Friday - Address Poems

     Happy Halloween!  The poem I shared with my fifth grade classes today came from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School.  Our literacy contract this month is focused around the theme topics FEAR and COURAGE, so I found the perfect poem!  This poem, page 168 tells us, is a Poem of Address or an Apostrophe poem in which the poet/narrator addresses objects or animals as humans.  It's the perfect time to talk about personification, too.

The Fear Factor
by Sara Holbrook

I know you.
how you ask for what is mine.
How you swell in my chest,
speak up,
straighten my spine,
and whisper in my ear,
Okay, you say.
It's going to be okay.

Read the rest of the poem on Sara's blog, here.

My class and I tried our own.  Check out mine and Maya's.  I hope to add more later, as they finish next week:

Hello, Halloween

Oh, how you creep up 
on silent feet,
the autumn chill
trailing your
ghostly form.
You float after
children, whispering 
Beware, you say.
Watch your back.
Bats, creepy crawlies, 
and skeletons rise up
to follow you.
A midnight
Pied Piper.
Clanking and clicking,
bones shiny with white.
Beware, you say,
        Holly Mueller
P.S. Did you know the fear of Halloween is Samhainophobia?


you yell at me
demanding it to be felt
screaming in my ear
so I no longer hear
I cry and whine
you make me fragile
you follow me
I never see you
but I always feel you
when you come near
I don't know what to do
I scream I shout
nobody hears me
I sit alone
with you next to me
you scream in my ear
and I'm in a trance
making a dance
because of you.

    - Maya

Join Linda over at Teacher Dance for the poetry roundup today!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Spiritual Journey Thursday - Community

     THANK YOU to Carol Varsalona (@cvarsalona) for enhancing and framing the Spiritual Journey Thursday meme!!  Carol is part of the amazing blogging and Twitter community that encourages, teaches, creates, and writes.  I look forward to Thursdays because I learn so much from those who link up.
The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone..." -Genesis 2:18a
     Last week in our Truth Project small group session, we talked about God's plan for the social order.  I've heard a lot about the Trinity as a Christian, and I've had limited understanding of it since I'm merely human.  It's hard to grasp that someone/thing can be one and three at the same time.  After Thursday's session, though, I had a better understanding of what it means, and I loved it.
     I am not going to do justice to the concept in just a blog post, but I'm going to try to communicate what I understood to be true from the hour video we watched.  God Himself is a community.  Fellowship is inherent in His being.  Yes, he is one God, but within this essence, He is three.  Likewise, God stamped His design on us and endorses the importance of community in family, the church, government, school, and the world.  Because it is in HIS nature to abide in community, it is also in ours.  Isn't that amazing?!  Even when we think we are alone, we only need to look to the perfect fellowship that is God and the Trinity.  We already have a relationship with Him.
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” - Matthew 18:19-20
    I love the idea that even this Spiritual Journey Thursday link-up has become a community.  We share our spiritual journeys, even when it feels risky.  We ask for prayers and pray.  We encourage and support.  It is true.  It is not good for man to be alone.  We crave community because God gave us the desire to be more than our individual selves.  We are to gather in His name...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Slice of Life - Cat Scratch Fever

I love participating in Slice of Life, started by Two Writing Teachers and writing a story, reflection, or musing at least once a week.
This week my students are making Scar Maps in their writer's notebooks to generate ideas for future Slices of Life for their Kidblogs.  A Scar Map is a self-portrait (just a stick figure will do) with arrows pointing from all the places on your body where you had an injury, accident, illness, broken heart, etc.  Emotional scars count as well as physical ones.  After making a Scar Map, we wrote Quick Writes about one of them.  Of course, I have to write about one, too!

My Scar Map

Student's Scar Map

You thought Cat Scratch Fever was just a Ted Nuget song, right?!  Wrong.  It's a REAL illness.  Read about it here.  It happened right before my 8th grade graduation.  My grandparents were staying with me because my parents were taking a vacation.  I was out on the front porch when I saw a sweet black cat winding in and out of the bushes in the front landscaping.  Me being an animal person, I naturally wanted to pet it and pick it up, with the intention of trying to find out if it belonged to someone on our street.  I coaxed it over, and it seemed friendly.  It seemed clean and healthy.  Growing up in the country, I knew to be careful of petting and handling animals with abandon.  It started to rub against my feet and legs, purring a bit.  I smiled and decided to pick it up.  

"Ahhhhhhhhhh!"  It BIT me!!!  Right on the cheek!  No sooner had I pulled the cat close, that it freaked out, yowled, and BIT me.  I couldn't believe it!  I pushed it away and ran inside.  I felt so betrayed.  How dare that cat!  I was just being friendly, and it deceived me into thinking it was a friendly kitty.  It was a demon feline!!

My grandma helped me clean up my cheek, and besides a couple puncture marks, we both figured it was a minor incident.  I might have felt shaky and duped, but I was okay. Night soon fell, and it was time for bed.  I noticed a slight swelling and soreness, but besides that, no big deal.  It wasn't until morning when I realized something was terribly wrong.  I felt like I had a bad case of the flu, and my cheek had swelled to the size of a baseball.  I was achy all over, feverish, and nauseated.  My grandparents were shocked when I walked out into the kitchen.  They immediately called my parents to let them know and made a doctor's appointment for that day.  The diagnosis?  Yep, Cat Scratch Fever.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

These are memes started by Teach Mentor Texts and Book Journey, and I'm excited to participate, along with many other bloggers, in reviewing books I read the previous week. I'll be reviewing picture books through adult books. 

Oh my goodness!  Could it be that it's been over a MONTH since I wrote a #IMWAYR post?!  I'll only feature some of my favorites I've read since September 22nd instead of everything, and then I'll try not to go so long in between again.
Flora and the Penguin
Molly Idle's new Flora book is just as perfect as the first one. How does she make us so happy with no words - just expressions, movement, and a silent story. Lovely.
Nana in the City
I really enjoyed this picture book about looking at things in a new way. It would be a great mentor text for point of view/perspective. Terrific illustrations.
african-american, dance, leaving-a-legacy, mock-caldecott-2015, multicultural, picture

Hank Has a Dream
Aw, I love Hank. I'm so glad he's back in this new picture book by Rebecca Dudley. This time he tells his friend, Hummingbird, his dream about flying. The ending begins to take us on the journey again, this time with Hummingbird. Dudley's miniature sets are just as magical in this one.
The Secret Life of Squirrels
I love the creativity and patience of this author/photographer! I had seen some of her squirrel pictures before on social media, so I was happy when I saw this book! She creates miniature tableaux, and then wait until squirrels come to investigate and snaps hundreds of photos until she gets just the right one to create the scene. So cute!
I Kill the Mockingbird
If you are a bibliophile, you can't help but love this book about 3 friends who hatch a crazy plan after getting their summer reading assignments to hide and "kill" copies of To Kill A Mockingbird in various local bookstores in order to promote interest in it (funny commentary about banned books in that action!). It's about the love of books and bookstores, friendship, family, and even a little romance. I laughed aloud at many parts, but there are also profound musings about God and spirituality. I'm not sure every kid would love it, but the ones who do are sure to be book lovers!
The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)
I loved this alien sci-fi thriller - I found it hard to put down once I started. The twists and turns, romance, and survival adventure kept me turning the pages. I'm so glad I waited to read it until the sequel was already published! Interesting exploration on what it means to be human and what humans are capable of in the midst of fear, survival, and war. On to Book 2...
365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts
I enjoyed reading the 365 precepts that Mr. Browne, Auggie's teacher in Wonder, gathered over the years. There is such a wide array of people (including children) represented. I see them as excellent writing prompts. My 6th graders already analyzed and written about G.K. Chesterton's precept, "I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act." Between each month, Mr. Browne writes essays in which a little more of the story Wonder gets revealed. I think this book is must have for the classroom library, along with Wonder, of course.
The Fourteenth Goldfish
This is a quirky story of family, fears, and science. Why do I say fears? Ellie's mad scientist grandfather is so afraid of aging that when he discovers a jellyfish that has a component in it that reverses age, he gives some to himself and reverts to a 13-yr-old! Ellie's mother brings him home and has to disguise him as a long-lost cousin named Melvin. His character is just hilarious, but he learns throughout the book that the circle of life requires that people age. Ellie's newfound interest in science will inspire girls to look at more stuff under the microscope. This is a World Read Aloud book this year, so I'm going to try it out with my 5th graders. This story would pair well with Funke's The Thief Lord and Sheinkin's Bomb.
The Secret Hum of a Daisy
This is a beautiful, beautiful book that reads more like poetry than a novel. I loved 12-yr-old Grace and her search for love and a home after the accidental death of her mother. I loved Grace's grandmother, flawed as she was, because she truly wanted to do right by Grace. I loved Mrs. Greene and Lacey who wanted desperately to make a home for her. I loved the various birds who meandered like supernatural signposts throughout the story, and I loved the Robert Frost poetry that weaved it all together. I loved the words and poetry that Grace needed to express. If I didn't have a thousand books in my TBR pile, I would've started at the beginning and read it all over again immediately.
Big Little Lies
Messenger (The Giver, #3)
Usually I feature what my family is reading, but I didn't get a chance to investigate, so I'll try to get that done for next week's #IMWAYR.
What are YOU reading this week?!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

DigiLit Sunday

      I love that Margaret Simon has started a Sunday Link Up for posts about digital literacy at her blog to challenge us to share our technology journeys. 
     In a previous post, I shared an idea for a project with you involving student-made Public Service announcements for our Social Injustice unit using WeVideo.  Whew!  What a project it was.  It was quite the learning curve, and at times, we all got frustrated.  However, we did it, and I was proud of my students!  A couple students discovered and used PowToon, which was a pretty neat site, also.  If I had to do it all over again (and I will - it was valuable enough to do again in the future), I would have them research and make PSAs over current topics.  I had them read about historical social injustices and do the PSAs as if the historical event was happening now.  I don't think that was particularly effective - at least, not as effective as it could have been.  However, they still learned how to experiment with new technology, how to effectively use persuasive techniques, and how to discern persuasive techniques when they are used on them.  Take a look at a student's PowToon PSA  about segregation.  She read Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Freedom Walkers

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Celebration Saturday

I love linking up to a wonderful celebratory community, inspired by Ruth Ayres, every Saturday!
- I celebrate Saturday mornings - they are always cause for celebration - sleeping in, reading, walking the dog, time to read Choice Literacy (my writing and planning partner, Megan Ginther, has a great article in Big Fresh this week on peer-evaluation) and Celebrate this Week blogs, updatimg Goodreads, drinking lots of coffee, etc.  I love them!
- I celebrate my youngest daughter's appointment as a blogger for her business fraternity, Pi Sigma Epsilon at The Ohio State!  Read her first blog post here!  We'll be joining her later today for Parents' Weekend.
- I celebrate travels.  Ed and I had a great time in D.C. last weekend. We had perfect autumn temperatures and sunshine the whole time.  One of the highlights was seeing the Library of Congress.  We have been to D.C. before, but we had never visited the Library.  It is stunning.  So beautiful!  I enjoyed seeing Thomas Jefferson's book collection.
 - I celebrate when my students agree we need more time in our ELA classes (we only have an hour)!  This sounds funny, but what joy it is to hear them groan when I say it's time to switch. One student even said she never checks the clock in my class, and it goes by so fast.  That's because we're having fun!  Yay!
- I celebrate Slices of Life and Kidblog!  We have been spending the last three weeks looking at mentor Slices of Life and comments, and students are writing their own.  I've wanted to get my kids blogging for a couple years now, but haven't really done a good job of it.  I'm very proud of their Slices of Life this time around.  Taking the time to look at mentor texts and jotting down characteristics and ideas, having them map ideas on Georgia Heard's Heart Maps, and writing rough drafts in their notebooks first have made all the difference.  I'm loving seeing their thoughtful and thorough comments, also.  Their enthusiasm makes all the time and effort we've put in to them worth it.  I can also tell they're getting new ideas for writing as they read each other's slices.  Their weekly Slice of Life requirement is going to encourage lots of writing this year, and I'm thrilled about it!
Off to read about other celebrations!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spiritual Journey Thursday - Amazing Grace

     THANK YOU to Carol Varsalona (@cvarsalona) for enhancing and framing the Spiritual Journey Thursday meme!!  Carol is part of the amazing blogging and Twitter community that encourages, teaches, creates, and writes.  I look forward to Thursdays because I learn so much from those who link up.
 "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." - Romans 3:23-24
     I looked up the Biblical meaning of "justified," and it means to be made right with God.  Isn't that amazing?  We are justified, or made right with God, because of Jesus and what He did for us.  That makes me breathe a sigh of relief.  It fills me with awe.  How is it that we are so blessed with this gift?  It fills me with gratitude.  It also makes me feel convicted to extend that grace to others.  How can we be resentful or annoyed or angry toward others when our God knows all our shortcomings and still gives us this great gift of grace?  God, thank you for the grace you freely give me.  Please fill me with the desire to pass that grace forward.  Amen.

No matter how many times I hear this song, it always makes me teary-eyed.  This is a beautiful version by LeAnn Rimes:


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nonfiction Wednesday

I'm excited that Alyson Beecher, at Kid Lit Frenzy, is continuing her Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge for the third year in a row.
Today is all about libraries!
The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

This is a remarkable story of Alia Muhammad Baker who was the librarian in Basra, Iraq when it was invaded in April, 2003. She was determined to save the books in her library. The governor wouldn't help her, so she took the rescue mission into her own hands. With the aid of friends and neighbors, she hid 70% of the books before the library burned down.

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock, Illustrated by John O'Brien

This book was especially enjoyable to read since I bought it in the Library of Congress book store after seeing Jefferson's collection! I love the story of Jefferson's obsession with books and reading and the legacy he left to the Library of Congress. And who wouldn't want a table that revolves so that you could read several books at once?! I enjoyed O'Brien's lively illustrations, also.

What nonfiction did you enjoy this week?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Poetry Friday

     My 5th and 6th graders took a look at a poem by Bliss Carman, a Canadian poet, from Poetry for Young People: The Seasons.  It is a poem about autumn called "A Vagabond Song":

There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood -- 
Touch of manner, hint of mood; 
And my heart is like a rhyme, 
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time. 

The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry 
Of bugles going by. 
And my lonely spirit thrills 
To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills. 

There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir; 
We must rise and follow her, 
When from every hill of flame 
She calls and calls each vagabond by name. 

Poetry for Young People: The Seasons

     This was a difficult poem for my intermediate kids, but we worked through it.  After we worked through it, we wrote autumn poems of our own.  Many of them were influenced by the Carman poem. Some lifted lines, tried to replicate the rhyme pattern and meter, etc. Here's mine:

There is something in the Autumn
That sets my soul astir;
The frost and chill arrive
Leaving summer as a blur.

Gone are walks on beach shores
And steaming, hazy morns;
Arriving are the trick-or-treaters
And bowls of candy corn.

Red, yellow, gold confetti
Thrown atop the trees;
God shows off all His glory,
Pay attention, if you please!

From a fifth grader, Connor:

The winter air is very cold,
it's been around so long it's old.
But sliding down the hill I go,
across the freshly fall snow.

The season spring brings many changes
as the environment rearranges.
The green grass, the deer are running,
but watch out spring cause summer's coming.

The summer sun up in the sky,
people go to pools and take a dive.
Kids are running, school is out,
but fall will come without a doubt.

The cool fall air, the falling leaves,
as they leave their creators, the trees.
All the seasons come and go,
now back to winter and the snow.

From fifth grader, Megan:

The red and orange are in a blur
I will capture them for sure.
They fall off the trees,
Yes, the beautiful leaves.

The colors of Autumn fall to the ground
And then I take a great big bound.
The leaves now fly everywhere
Now I am on the ground.

They are life and I hate to see them leave
But they get whirled down the street
Goodbye, Goodbye they cry
I just stay on the ground and lie around.

I love autumn as you can see
So would you please join me?
They're back again
Like a great big train.

The leaves are back and I can rejoice
And then I hear a little voice
Come and jump and play with us
These leaves I can trust.

I'm happy for now
But this year 
I hope they stay much longer
They are my friends and they've been yonder.

Take a look at Michelle's blog to see the rest of the Poetry Friday posts!

Spiritual Journey Thursday - Peace

     THANK YOU to Carol Varsalona (@cvarsalona) for enhancing and framing the Spiritual Journey Thursday meme!!  Carol is part of the amazing blogging and Twitter community that encourages, teaches, creates, and writes.  I look forward to Thursday because I learn so much from those who link up.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7
He Reigns
arches over us
adorned with His promises,
letting us know
that all is well.
All is well.
arches over us
delivering His grace;
assuring us
we have a Savior.
We are saved.
arches over us
in all His glory,
reminding us
to be still.
Be still.
arches over us
with power and love
promising us
We are forgiven.
arches over us
affirming our faith
through His creation,
full of beauty.
It's full of beauty.
arches over us,
stopping us in our tracks,
and we know
He reigns.
He reigns.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nonfiction Wednesday

I'm excited that Alyson Beecher, at Kid Lit Frenzy, is continuing her Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge for the third year in a row.
Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla
I love that we now have a picture book as well as the Newbery winning novel of this winsome gorilla. Kids will love revisiting Ivan and learning more about his real life. The illustrations capture Ivan's sweetness, joy, sadness, loneliness, and triumph throughout the journey of his celebrated life. Wonderful photograph of the real Ivan at the end! The About Ivan section gives his biography.   For those kids who haven't read The One and Only Ivan yet (Are there any left?), this new picture book will make them want to pick it up!  It reminds me all over again of our parent/student book club to The Cincinnati Zoo.  What a great day that was!  Ivan continues to live on...