International Dot Day

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Oh, how my students love Dot Day! Do you celebrate? Peter Reynolds is the brilliant creator of this amazing, phenomenal day. This year 1.7 million have registered to participate. That’s a lot of dots!

I wore my Dot Day skirt. We read The Dot (again) and watched The Dot video. This year a new song was released by Emily Dale. What a catchy tune! We sang along and kept singing as we made our dots. There is nothing more fun than painting on a Monday. My students experimented with mixing colors. They tried out new designs. Not one of them said they didn’t know what to draw. I love that about Dot Day. Vashti shows us that even a jab of a pencil is worthy.

You can still celebrate Dot Day. The official day is Sept. 15th but Peter tells us that it is Sept. 15th-ish. I say any day could be Dot Day. Make your mark. Make it matter.

Many resources are available on FableVision.

Using Piktochart

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I enjoy trying out new apps online but not as much as my students do. On Friday morning I had meetings, and my students had French class and hearing testing, so we were running behind in whole class time. Not the best atmosphere for teaching a new skill. (Did I mention it was Friday?) I was determined to have something new to write about today for DigiLit Sunday, so with only half an hour left for our class time, I showed them Piktochart.

Piktochart 2

Last week’s Wonder theme was Hurricanes, so for this first try at an infographic, I suggested they work on hurricanes. We brainstormed information we could find: categories, safety tips, cost of hurricane damage, and location. I paired off my kids, but with an odd number, I told Vannisa I would work with her. I sat next to her at the computer and watched her go to work.

First she chose a template that she liked. The template had a circle graph. We discussed what kind of information would fit in a circle graph. We found a web site showing the number of hurricanes that occurred within each month of the 6 months of hurricane season from 1988-present. Together we worked on the data chart. Here we quickly had to figure out what data went where. Vannisa was more skilled than me.

The short time that Vannisa and I were working together I was fascinated by how quickly and easily she jumped right in to the app. She was motivated to find more information. She kept saying, “Look at this,” and “I love this,” and “Let’s find more information.”

Matthew stayed late in class because he decided to make an infographic on Houdini. He is a bit obsessed with magic and just finished a biography of Houdini. When I told him he could use the Piktochart to make his reader response on the book, he hugged me.

Houdini Piktochart

I can’t promise hugs, but I know your students will be motivated by Piktograph. I plan to introduce it to another group of students this week. I look forward to seeing what they will do and how much fun learning can be.

If you have a digital literacy post, link up!

14 Cows and 9/11

Renee at No Water River is hosting the round up today.  Click here to join in.

Renee at No Water River is hosting the round up today. Click here to join in.

14 Cows
In the past I have avoided the subject of the tragic Sept. 11th with my young elementary students. Yesterday, fellow blogger Holly Mueller posted about using the book 14 Cows for America to teach empathy on Sept. 11th. So I looked in our school library first thing in the morning, and she had the book. I took it as a sign. There was also an accompanying YouTube video about the story of the 14 Cows. I showed the video and read the book aloud. I have to admit I was fighting back tears the whole time. This day affects me deeply as I am sure it does many of you.

14 cows cover
Following the read aloud, I asked my students to write for a few minutes. I was amazed by the profound nature of their writing. They can all be found on our class kidblog, but I wanted to share a few.

Point of View

Looking at a plane,

directly in front of you,

coming closer, closer, closer,

finally, you run. But you’re too late.

It has already hit. Shards of glass graze your skin,

you’re blinded by dust. Finally, you’re out.

You wipe your eyes and see…nothing.

Fire, smoke, and debris are where you just were.

The other tower, just south of the first, is hit.

The first collapses, and you know anyone inside is gone.


Cows are the grass that sways.
Cows are the roads we drive on.
Cows are the great buildings standing tall.
Cows are the stars in the sky.
Cows are life.





It is in you.




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 Meuller invites fellow bloggers to reflect on our spiritual journey each week. The theme this week is TRUTH.

I am not a true believer. I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. I do not believe that God has total control. I believe that God is real and true. I believe that we are given free will and with that gift, we can make the choice to nurture the God within.

Morning moon

Morning moon

Morning moon glow

Morning moon glow

I started the day thinking about truth. Looking into the sky before dawn, the full harvest moon looked down on me. My camera in my phone could not tell the truth. These photos do not show what I saw. Are these photos a lie? My husband and I discussed this dilemma. He said that now that he has had cataract surgery and has lens implants, everything he sees is a lie. Actually, everything we all see is only true to us, clouded by our vision or our perception.

The Bible is full of metaphor. Metaphor points to truth, but the message is not always visible.

The kingdom of God is…
a mustard seed,
a pearl,
a lost coin.

The Good Shepherd watches over his sheep,
knows them by name,
and goes out to look for the lost one.

One of my favorite poets is Mary Oliver. She writes with precise simplicity that speaks volumes. In A Thousand Mornings, she brings us into her daily morning meditations. Her poem “On Traveling to Beautiful Places” speaks of the search for God and for truth.

Every day I’m still looking for God
and I’m still finding him everywhere,
in the dust, in the flowerbeds.
Certainly in the oceans,
in the islands that lay in the distance
continents of ice, countries of sand
each with its own set of creatures
and God, by whatever name.
How perfect to be aboard a ship with
maybe a hundred years still in my pocket.
But it’s late, for all of us,
and in truth the only ship there is
is the ship we are all on
burning the world as we go.

--Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings, New York: Penguin Press, 2012. 67.

As I contemplate truth, I realize that there is no real truth. We are on a journey of discovery, doing the best we can with what we have. Truth is blurry, hard to see, like the moon in a photograph. Yet, it is there waiting to be discovered.

(After I finished writing this post, serendipity sent me the message that it was Mary Oliver’s birthday.)


  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.


I think I may be crazy, but I’ve decided to try a new strategy for my formal observation. This is the observation that is announced. My principal and I met for our pre-observation interview on Friday. I told her that I had never taught this skill before. She said, “Oh, we usually advise that you don’t do that, but I’m sure you can handle it.” What was I thinking?

In pre-AP training this summer, I learned about a strategy for poetry analysis called TP-CASTT. Then when I was perusing the Guidebooks for the state curriculum, I found it was used for advanced fourth grade. I have gifted 5th and 6th graders, so this should be right on target for them. We are going to analyze Natasha Trethewey’s poem, Providence. I can relate to this poem because I was a child living in Jackson, Ms in 1969 when Hurricane Camille struck the Gulf Coast. I think adding in my personal experience as well as my passion for Natasha Trethewey’s poem will come through in this lesson.

I also searched online and found a great graphic organizer on Read, Write, Think. I plan to use this organizer to help us collect our thoughts. I have the poem ready on ActiveInspire to project on the Promethean, barring no computer tech problems.

So, what am I worried about? I got this, right?

I will probably lose some sleep worrying about my evaluation. I will give my students a little lecture about behavior before my principal comes in; however, lively conversation with student interaction is actually a good thing on the rubric. I can be sure my students will be engaged.

So cross your fingers and say a little prayer because I am probably in the midst of this lesson as you read this post. I am preaching to myself, “Evaluation is a good thing. You are a good teacher. Be calm and teach on!”

Blogging Fever

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

My students have gotten the blogging fever. I did not expect this and am silently cheering. I am sharing our kidblog site with a colleague whose students are also posting. Also, two former students who are now in middle school are joining in. The site is getting lots of activity.

On my simple rubric for kidblog, my students have four requirements, each worth 10 points: Post 3 times, GUMS (Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling), 3 comments, and comments must be thoughtful and constructive. Here are the highlights:

1. Lots of posts! What are you reading? Slice of Life stories. Poetry Friday. My students are writing a lot. This must be good for them. I have seen great strides in just these first three weeks of school. They are adding details. They feel like their writing matters. They are using sentence structure and humor to make their writing more interesting.

2. I am using their posts to teach grammar, either in whole group or one on one. This is working. My students are realizing that grammar matters to the reader. They are noticing when other writers are not following grammar rules.

3. Sharing and caring! My students are getting to know the other students posting on our blog. They are relating, connecting, wondering.

How do I turn this activity into data? In this day of data-driven instruction, I want to find a way to track and analyze the progress of my students. I know it’s happening, but how do I prove it? I welcome your responses.

To read some of the many student blog posts, click here.
Please link up your own digital literacy post with Mr. Linky.

Dialogue Poem

Laura at Author Amok has the Poetry Friday round up today.

Laura at Author Amok has the Poetry Friday round up today.

I enjoy good photography. I also think photos make good prompts for writing. Kim Douillard posted two photos from the beach on her site “Thinking through my Lens.” They were taken minutes apart, and during that small space of time, the sun set and turned the sky orange. She asked her blog audience what the two photographs may be saying to each other. I posted them side by side on the board in the classroom and suggested students write a conversation or dialogue poem. I imagined the following conversation.

photo by Kim Douillard, all rights reserved.

photo by Kim Douillard, all rights reserved.

photo by Kim Douillard, all rights reserved.

photo by Kim Douillard, all rights reserved.

The Hang Glider Speaks to the Sandpiper
A lone sandpiper
steps into the clouds,
reflected sky on serous sand.
I hear the echo of his call,
“Come wade with me.
The sand is cool
between your toes.
Come take a walk with me.”

A lone hang glider
flies in the sunset,
warm rays guide him on.
The silence of the sky speaks,
“Up here, where the air is thin and light,
you can fly like a kite–free–
Come up here with me.”
–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.


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