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Archive for May, 2016

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

I just got off the phone with my mother-in-law who asked me if I was bored yet.  I laughed.  Well, I did clean the grout on the bathroom floor.  Does that mean I’m bored?

Actually, my summer list is long and growing.  This morning I accomplished one of my goals, blueberry picking.  I do this every year the week after school gets out because this is the time when the blueberries ripen.  In 2014, I wrote a poem about this ritual that begins with…

Some things wear their becoming,
like this blueberry, for example,
plump and perfectly indigo
surrounded by pinky-red brothers and sisters,
it boasts to be chosen
falls easily into my palm
joyfully plinks the plastic bucket.

See the rest of the poem here.

My friend Suzanne came along.  She couldn’t believe she had never done this before.  It was fun to share the joy of fresh blueberries with her.  Here is the Facebook page for Bayou Blues Blueberry Farm. 

A Painteresque view of me picking blueberries.

A Painteresque view of me picking blueberries.

Blueberry sky

Blueberry sky

Kitchen brightened by fresh fruit and fresh flowers.

Kitchen brightened by fresh fruit and fresh flowers.

Slowing down, enjoying simple things, and savoring summer days.  No, I’m not bored yet.

 

 

 

 

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I have taken a few art classes. In art, perspective is important and obvious to the eye. One of my favorite artists is Georgia O’Keefe. A series of her paintings focuses in on the center of a flower. Looking closely changes the perspective. Seeing the center without white space to guide your eye makes the image more focused.

wikiart.com

wikiart.com

My school year ended ten days ago. This period of time I have worked hard to relax and be present. I have actually avoided thinking at all about school. However, teaching is never far from my radar.

Today, I can see more clearly the white space. I understand the structure of my year and have some perspective on things.

At the center of focus is always literacy.  Writing is an important component in my class. We wrote daily about our lives, about our reading, sprinkled with poetry.

But as I look forward and begin to shift my perspective to the horizon line, I see where my focus should be next year.  I will have the same students. In many ways this makes the transition to a new grade level much smoother. They know what to expect. They know me.

Because of this, I will have to be intentional about changes and make them happen early on. I am reading Katherine Bomer’s book, The Journey is Everything. The intended audience is teachers of middle grades 6-8. The highest grade I teach is 6th, but I can see ways to incorporate her ideas in my lower grades as well.

While we need to pay attention to structure in the essay, that is not the purpose. I will continue using blogs as the main format for writing. A few points of perspective their writing will take are 1. writing to discover and 2. writing to explore language.

I want to be more aware of my students’ perspectives and allow them to discover them safely in our classroom. When we focus on the single poppy in the field, we can see more clearly the unique individual. We can honor their voices and work toward developing authentic, valuable writing.

In order to prepare to teach essay differently, I am experimenting with my own writing.  I am trying out “writing for discovery” and “exploring language” with more intention in my blogging.

Perspective as a writer gives me a clearer lens for teaching writing.

you have a story to tell

Please add your blog post link below:

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Discover. Play. Build.

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

Hope is the thing
I have discovered that I value connections. When we are willing to be vulnerable, we can trust others with our stories. Trusting someone with your story takes courage, but the reward is love. Making connections through story creates a bond, not only with the other but also within yourself and your own self-worth.

On Sunday, I made a connection with words from the Bible. Part of the reading from Romans was this, “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” Romans 5:3-4

I am writing a verse novel with the working title of “Hope is our Song.” Immediately when I read these words, I chose them as my epigraph for the book. I spoke with the young priest after the service about his sermon. His words resonated with me and will connect with anyone who has suffered.

I am unable to give you an answer as to the why of human suffering. I cannot answer the age old question why do bad things happen to good people?However, I see in the Trinity how we get through such suffering- we get through such suffering, we make such suffering meaningful, because of our love for each other.–Seth Walley

Love is communicated through connection, through our shared stories, through our empathy toward one another.

My friend shared her new favorite book, Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas by Rebecca Solnit. I had just that morning been listening to On Being, an interview with Rebecca Solnit.

Again, the word hope pops up and these words from Rebecca Solnit speak to me.

I wrote a book called Hope in the Dark about hope where the — where that darkness was the future, that the present and past are daylight, and the future is night. But in that darkness is a kind of mysterious, erotic, enveloping sense of possibility and communion. Love is made in the dark as often as not. And then to recognize that unknowability as fertile, as rich as the womb rather than the tomb in some sense..

In talking to my friend and making the connection between the Bible verse, her new book, the podcast I was listening to, our conversation was rich with meaning. She advised me to pay attention. The universe is speaking to me. This blog post is my way of taking note and paying attention. I celebrate connections.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Julie at The Drift Record

Poetry Friday round-up is with Julie at The Drift Record

 

 

Photo by Kim Douillard

Photo by Kim Douillard

 

The Butterfly

touched my outstretched hand
for only a millisecond,
yet left behind
a tingle

on my sensitive,
scarred skin.
I kept my arm
outstretched
waiting,

watching
this fluttering yellow kite
dart through the goldenrod
Daddy grew from seed.

How could he have known
when he sowed and watered
that at this moment
when I needed it most

A butterfly would
leave Joy
on my outstretched hand?

Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

Reflection: Yesterday, I wrote about touch.  I saw this amazing photograph on Kim Douillard’s post this morning.  All day the gift of touch has been on my mind.  Even the slightest touch of a butterfly can wrap us in a moment of Joy.  What else is there?

 

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Spiritual Journey thursday

 

baby's touch

My dentist died this week.  He has been my dentist for 30 years.  When I think of him, I think of his hands.  His hands were soft and gentle.  They moved with confidence. His hands calmed me down.  I will miss his hands.

One of the givens of human nature is the need for touch.  Research shows that when a child is deprived of human touch, he will not thrive.  Sometimes we forget this basic need.  We get busy with life and forget about touching the ones we love.

When my daughters were born, touch was a part of our daily life together.  There was feeding, bathing, changing, and cuddling.  Even after they could dress themselves, cuddling together at night with a book on the sofa or in the bed kept touching a part of our lives.

When did we stop touching?  I don’t remember the day we stopped cuddling.  They grew up.  We got busy.  It happened without me noticing.

Now my daughters are adults and live their own lives.  Touch is the occasional hug when we get together.

The same thing happens to couples.  When my husband and I were dating and then married, we touched constantly.  A kiss, a hug, a pat.  But now we’ve been married almost 34 years.  We have to be more intentional about touching, or we get busy and forget.

Dancing has brought us back to touching.   We dance at least once a week.  Dancing requires touching.  We hold each other.  Our hands touch and hold and spin.  Sometimes we step on each other’s feet.  Usually we are smiling. Touching, music, and movement bring joy, laughter, and love.

My last dentist appointment was a few months ago.  Clyde had retired in January, so I was surprised when he came in to check on me.  He couldn’t stay away, he told me.  I was so relieved to see him.  I didn’t know it would be the last time.

Take time today to remember the power, the magic, and the love of a gentle touch.

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

 

A mallard nest on the island.

A mallard nest on the island.

My mother told me the story of discovering the goose nest.  She had gone out to the island, a small piece of land they had separated from their property years ago to solve the erosion/marsh issue.  She sat down in a lawn chair and was surprised to see a female Canada goose sitting in the brush.  Ah, she must be nesting.

My parents avoided the island but watched daily as the male guarded the space where the female sat on the nest.

Then I came for a visit.  On Saturday morning, I was looking toward the island and noticed both the male and female were walking around… and there were little fuzzy thinks walking around them.  Goslings!  They hatched!

We grabbed the binoculars and squealed with excitement.

I snuck out with my camera and telephoto lens to capture the scene.  The parents led their babies out for their first swim, and I caught it on video.

On Sunday other Canada geese families came by to visit and welcome the new goslings.

Why are we so fascinated by new life?

For weeks now I have been following Cynthia Lord’s daily Facebook posts about her bunny babies.  My daughter’s best friend had a baby last week, and we can’t get enough pictures.  Everywhere there is new life, and it is thrilling.

Mom and I chatted constantly about the baby goslings.  We grieved when we saw there were only four when originally there were five.  Even though this life and death is a part of every day in nature, we still marvel at it all.

Creation is an amazing thing.  We want to feel that newness of birth.  We delight in seeing something so small mimic its parents.  Don’t you look forward to all the firsts?

I was sitting out on the back porch reading.  I hadn’t seen the geese or goslings for some time.  I heard a splash and looked up to see one of the goslings jumping from the bridge into the water.  I called to Mom, “Guess what I just saw!?”

New life tells us that there is a generosity in this world.

There will be another hatching soon.  On the day I was leaving, Mom and I walked out to the island to see the abandoned nest.  I wanted to take a picture of it.  As we were talking, a flutter of wings flew up from the brush and flew into the lake.  A mother mallard.  There we saw her nest of 10 shiny white eggs.

I probably won’t be at the lake when these ducklings hatch, but I can be sure that Mom will call me with a report. New life is God’s way of saying life must go on.  It’s also just. plain. joy.

 

 

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

The school year has ended for me. The end isn’t a celebration for me. I try to feel excited about summer, but my heart is hurting. I miss my kids. I wonder what they are doing. I miss our daily connection. I hear their voices in my head. Eventually this fades, and I fit into my days like they were meant for me.

This weekend in order to tender the depression I know is coming, I traveled home to my parents’ house on the lake. This is a beautiful place to reflect, read, and relax.

Canada geese

While at the lake, these Canada geese hatched five goslings.

Teachers need this time as much as our students do. Time to not worry about the next lesson or the necessary evaluations. Time to look out at nature and just be present.

This is my intention: Presence.

My other intention is professional reading. I have started Katherine Bomer’s book The Journey is Everything. What I love about this book is Katherine writes as if she is speaking directly to me. Her tone is easy and conversational as she marvels in the wonder of the essay. I think her book will transform me personally as a writer as much as it does me as a teacher. The very things I love about writing this blog, writing to know what I’m thinking, is central to her theory about essaying. I grabbed the following quote to keep.

Students need essays

In order to read with more intention, I will be joining a book study group. Let me know in the comments if you want to join us. I am planning a Twitter chat with Katherine Bomer for later in the summer, so stay tuned.

If you have written a DigiLit blog post this week, please click the link below.

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