Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts.  Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts. Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Holly Mueller started this inspiring roundup of writing about out spiritual journey. She tweeted the theme: Patience.

It’s raining. Again. This happens almost every afternoon. It’s rather soothing if you don’t have to go to the bank, the grocery store, and the post office, but these errands happen. Rain happens. Patience doesn’t always happen.

Dance in the rain

Patience is a hard won skill. As a young teacher, I was not very patient. I got angry. I would yell. This embarrasses me now. Patience comes with age and for me, patience came after severe pain.

When I was 34 years old, I turned over in bed and blew a disc in my neck. The pain was unbearable, like a blow torch through my shoulder. Muscle spasms throbbed. I lost strength in my right arm. My thumb through my elbow became numb. An MRI showed a herneated disc at C-5. Surgery.

Having surgery of any kind brings death closer and makes it more real. I had three young daughters at the time. I cried and prayed. I lay in bed on pain medication and my mind would play with me. I felt crazy.

The spinal surgery worked. The herneation was removed. Healing came. In the process of healing, patience visited me. I somehow became calmer. Little things did not bother me as much. I found life had a deeper purpose.

I believe in the resurrection. In our lives, we experience many deaths and resurrections. Through each one, God teaches us a new lesson. The lesson of pain and surgery was patience. I may not be out dancing in the rain, but I can look to the wet grey sky and praise God. I know the importance of patience, of kindness, of love.


Hair in My Eyes

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Now that school is in full swing, I am writing my Slice of Life story with the purpose of modeling for my students. We talked about what a Slice of Life story is by analyzing my post last week about the snake. The board was full of things they noticed, such as having a climax and resolution (Whoa, high five!) A few of you wrote great comments that I could use to teach about making connections in your comments.

Yesterday I read a comment on my Poetry Friday post from Bridget Magee, “Margaret, this poem and the animation are both amazing! I love the lines:’an ornament hanging on a tree,
a bronze clasp pen for my lapel.’ It reminds me of when my oldest daughter was about 5 or 6 (she’s 17 now) and she used to love to walk the neighborhood collecting cicada exoskeletons until one day she pulled one of the tree and the fella was still in there! SHE just about jumped out of her own skin!” This comment models specific feedback and also making a personal connection. I explained to my students that writers like to know people are connecting to what they write. Thank you all for helping me teach valuable lessons about writing and blogging.

You can read some of my students’ SOL stories on our kidblog site. Feel free to leave comments.

This week’s Slice of Life:

My hair has become a problem. This summer (I can’t even remember exactly why) I grew out my bangs. For years I have had short bangs. As they grew out some, I was drying them off to the side, and my husband said to me, “I like your hair. It makes you look younger.” Exactly what any woman loves to hear, right?

On my next scheduled haircut, I told my stylist, “Jeff likes it, so we need to keep growing it out.”

Then the next visit (I schedule my haircuts six weeks apart), I had had enough of the headbands, so I told her to cut it. Keep the bangs long. In fact, I texted a friend to send a picture of her hair, cut in a cute short pixie style. “That’s what I want.”

“Your hair is not going to be straight unless you use a straight iron,” said Gale. Other than using a blow dryer, I do not own or use any other tools on my hair. Gale cut and styled it with the straight iron, knowing full well I would not do this.

My husband goes to the same hair salon. He walked in the next week and announced that he loved my hair. That was a first for Gale, so she was thrilled.

This weekend my husband and I went out dancing which is one of our favorite things to do together. In August the heat is such that no AC can keep up with it, much less when there are warm bodies dancing. The dance hall had placed huge fans around the dance floor. Every time we danced past one of these fans, Woosh! my hair blew across my face. My husband could tell I was getting really annoyed by this.

When we were riding home, he said, “I like your hair even when it’s flying in your face.” I guess I’m stuck with these annoying bangs for a little while longer.

Selfies: old hair style on the left, new on the right.

Selfies: old hair style on the left, new on the right.

For this Slice, I am modeling how you can write a story about anything. Some of my students have a hard time thinking of something to write about. Using my own writing to model, I can share stories of my life and teach them that anything, even your hair style, can become a Slice of Life story.

Technology and Grammar

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Once again it is DigiLit Sunday. I hope you will link up your digital literacy wisdom post and read and comment on others. This is how we build an active online community.

Over the last few years, much has been said about teaching grammar in isolation. Basically, it doesn’t work. Skill and drill is out. These days grammar lessons are embedded into writing instruction. Having such small groups of students, I have the luxury of conferencing individually with a student about grammar using his/her own writing. I also give mini-lessons when a question comes up that everyone can benefit from.

This year I plan to add a new web-based grammar practice. My supervisor in gifted shared this site with us at our recent inservice. She said her high school students told her that many of the skills they practiced were on the ACT. The site is https://www.noredink.com/ It is free to an extent, but there is a premium version we are considering purchasing if my supervisor gets enough interest. I signed my students up and created 3 weeks of assignments in about 15 minutes. The site uses students’ pop culture interests to generate practice sentences. If a student misses a question, an instructional page pops up. My hope is this site will be motivating and individualized and take little effort on my part. I am looking forward to giving it a try.

The other plan I have for grammar is to design mini-lessons from the students’ posts on kidblogs. This gives me easy access to their writing. This week when they wrote their Slice of Life entries, I noticed problems with punctuation of compound sentences. I also noticed that one of my fourth graders used capitalization correctly. I will highlight the correct grammar (celebrate this) and ask for input on the comma problems.

I believe that grammar is important, but I do not want to focus so much on it that our creative writing suffers. By incorporating web-based practice and mini-lessons from student writing, I will encourage good grammar skills and celebrate writing.

Add your Digital Literacy post with Mr. Linky.

Celebrating Sky

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Every week Kim Douillard puts out a photo challenge from her blog site, Thinking Through my Lens. This week’s challenge word was Sky. Last night we went out to dinner near this pond and the sunset grabbed my attention. Using a filter on my phone, I captured this image.

Original photo (iPhonography) by Margaret Simon taken at Sugar Mill Pond, Youngsville, LA.

Original photo (iPhonography) by Margaret Simon taken at Sugar Mill Pond, Youngsville, LA.

This was my first week with my students. It was so much fun to be back with them; although, a few were missing. (Moved on to middle school) We read together, decorated journals, and wrote poems about fireflies and cicadas. Two of my students, 6th grade boys, made me rubber band bracelets. My arm is very colorful.

Arm bands made by 6th grade boys.

Arm bands made by 6th grade boys.

Front cover of my journal for this school year.

Front cover of my journal for this school year.

The back of my journal.

The back of my journal.

Ode to the Cicada

Join the Poetry Friday Round-up at Life on the Deckle Edge with Robyn Hood Black.

Join the Poetry Friday Round-up at Life on the Deckle Edge with Robyn Hood Black.

Due to Robyn’s shoulder injury (Get well quick, Robyn.), Irene Latham has taken on the roundup today at Live your Poem.

Cicada molting animated-2.gif
Cicada molting animated-2” by T. Nathan Mundhenk – Edited version of File:Cicada molting animated.gif. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Taken by T. Nathan Mundhenk, in Centerville, Ohio USA July 30 2007. Each frame taken at 1 minute intervals. 30 minute gap in middle while cicada rested. The Cicada takes about 2 hours to complete the process.

This week was my first week back with my students. We read about bioluminescence of fireflies on Wonderopolis. This got me thinking about another insect, one that is loud at this time of year, the cicada. We read together two poems from The Poetry Friday Anthology of Science, Cicada Magic by Heidi Mordhorst and Cicada by Guadalupe Garcia McCall. We discussed the literary elements of imagery, rhyme, and personification. Then we wrote our own Cicada poems. Mine came out as an ode. One student’s response, “You’ve gotta love an ode!”

Ode to the Cicada

Your buzzy song rises
with the temperature.
Heat fans your wings
that saw the air
with sound.
You shed your exoskeleton
like a chrysalis
emerging larger and uglier
leaving behind a prize,
an ornament hanging on a tree,
a bronze clasp pen for my lapel.
Oh, cicada,
the memory of happy summer days
waiting, wondering,
whispering in wind’s ear
your creaky violin.
–Margaret Simon, all rigths reserved

This video is a quick look at the clouds outside with cicadas singing.

God is not prejudiced

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts.  Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts. Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

My dance instructor, Lou, dances with legendary Zydeco Joe.

My dance instructor, Lou, dances with legendary Zydeco Joe.

I have been maddened, saddened, and frustrated by the happenings in Ferguson, Missouri. Could this happen in my own home town?

I asked this question to the line of people at Solomon House on Tuesday morning. Solomon House is an outreach mission that distributes groceries once a week to the poor in our community. I go every Tuesday morning around 7 AM and greet the clients. This Tuesday our Executive Director was out of town. She usually gives the devotional. I was asked to do it in her absence.

Clients wait for Brown Bag give out at Solomon House.

Clients wait for Brown Bag give out at Solomon House.

I was a bit emotional and nervous to address this mixed crowd. As I looked at the group, I saw white men and women as well as black men and women, young and old. Poverty does not know race. Neither does God.

I continued with my talk.

My husband and I love to Zydeco dance. We are two white people who didn’t know how to dance until we started taking lessons three or so years ago. Now we enjoy going out to dance. Zydeco dancers come in all colors. There are black men dancing with white women, old dancing with young, and women dancing with women. God wants us to be like Zydeco dancers. He wants us all to dance together no matter how old we are or what color we are.

I am also a teacher. I teach young elementary students. In the cafeteria yesterday, as the kindergarten students are getting accustomed to school, I asked an older student to take a kindergarten student to class. They held hands without hesitation, a black child and a white child. Children do not know prejudice.

Let us be like Zydeco dancers and like children. Let us hold hands and dance together.

Farm Fresh Eggs

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

I’ve always thought a little romantically about having chickens in my yard. They are so cute, pecking around. My neighbors had a few, so I went by one day and got the tour. I even interviewed them for research on the sequel to Blessen. (She has a pet chicken in both books.) And what is better than farm fresh eggs?

When my daughter was house sitting last week, I went by for a visit. I posted about the horse on Saturday, celebrating his affection. The owners left a long list of chores. They included feeding the dogs, the cats, the ducks, the horses, the bird, and the chickens. The chickens were to be fed at 9:30 PM. I believe this was a tactic for getting them into the coop for the night.

After dinner before I left, Maggie wanted to show me this chicken feeding routine, so we fed them a little early. She showed me the back hatch for collecting the eggs. When she opened the hatch, we were excited to see about 7 eggs. I would be taking some home for breakfast. I reached in to pick up two eggs. As I moved my hand out, I looked to the right and noticed a long black rope. Only, the rope moved.

I have a pathological fear of snakes. I cannot even touch a page in a book with a snake on it. This fear has no basis in logic. When Maggie was 3 years old, my mother and I took her to the zoo. I refused to go into the snake house. Maggie went along with my mother. When they returned, Maggie announced, “Mom, it’s OK. They’re all in cages!”

This moving black rope was in a chicken coop. The very one I had just stuck my hands into. I am proud that I did not drop the eggs or scream and run. I just walked away briskly saying, “That was a snake!” I have decided that I will leave the raising of chickens to friends and neighbors.


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