Archive for the ‘Celebration Saturday’ Category

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

I grew up in Jackson, MS.  My father grew up in Jackson.  Mom moved to Jackson when she was 15.  Even though they both lived in Jackson, they didn’t meet until they were attending LSU.  I love to tell the story about how they met at the Episcopal Student Center and that Jeff and I met at the same place.

I came home yesterday for the Memorial Day weekend.  Dad showed me that his cousin had given him a thorough book about his mother’s ancestry.  Reading through genealogy is interesting to me.  I spent some time last night and this morning reading.  My father was interested in the murder story.  Apparently a brother of his great grandfather killed the mayor in an argument over back taxes.

The story that interested me was about his great grandfather’s wife, Malvina. My father’s great grandfather, William Yerger, was a prominent man in the history of Mississippi.  He became Chief Justice of the State and worked toward the state’s reconstruction after the Civil War. But I took interest in the quality of character that his wife upheld.  A tribute to Malvina appeared in a Jackson newspaper after her death on Dec. 4, 1914.


For a southern woman to have passed through the bitter years of war, and the bitter years of sacrifice after the war, to have given up her beloved ones to fill the ranks of gray clad youths, and then to give up all else–home, land possessions, everything save honor and loyalty and love, meant that she had been burned as with fire, and in the case of Mrs. William Yerger, the fires had marvelously purified a nature already of the finest, and it seemed that the years since then, have in consequence, been one long season of benediction to the world about her, where her example has oftentimes encouraged those who have suffered loss and grief, and others the heavy burden–to think upon the life of this noble woman and thinking, it lift up the heavy heart and go forward with renewed courage and faith.

I wish I could go back in time to know her.  Having such a strong woman in my ancestry comes with empowerment as well as responsibility.   Maybe some small part of Malvina is in me, and with whatever fire may occur, I will be able to encourage love and honor and raise up the suffering.


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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.


Since I first read Donalyn Miller’s book The Book Whisperer, I have implemented the 40 book challenge.  I teach 1st-6th grade gifted kids.  These kids are usually readers when they walk into my classroom.  My bulletin board houses sticker charts all year long.  Students add a sticker for every book they read.  Every nine weeks grading period I remind them to update their charts, but other than this, I leave them alone.

I do not believe in gimmicks to get kids to read.  What I do believe in is finding space to read every day and knowing a student well enough to place a just-right book into their hands.  My students have not all met the challenge, but this year a majority of them did.  This week we colored bubble numbers celebrating their achievements.

This Animoto video is a showy one. I didn’t get a posed picture will all of my kids, but here are a few proud readers. Enjoy!

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.



My students were quietly working on their Slice of Life posts on Tuesday.  Erin announced she didn’t know what to write about.  I ignored her.  Tucked behind a laptop computer on a counter in the classroom was The Writer’s Toolbox.  I don’t remember buying this.  I think it was at Barnes and Noble one summer when I was teaching a writing camp.  Since then I’ve used it occasionally but not very often.

Frankly, I don’t really like The Writer’s Toolbox.  It is a box of gimmicks.  There are sticks for a first sentence, a non sequitur sentence, and a last scene.   There are spinners for characters.  The toolbox was designed for adults.  There were sticks I had to remove for their adult content.  When I used the kit to inspire writing, I found that the writing that resulted was not very good.  So there the box sat on the counter until Erin found it.

Erin asked, “How do you play this game?”

I responded, “I don’t remember.  Why don’t you read the directions?”

Soon Erin was writing crazy stories.  Lani joined her.  It seemed like so much fun.  Then Emily and Kaiden, and before I knew it, there sat an enthusiastic group of writers.  They used the 3 minute timer and wrote in 3 minute segments.  They shared their writing, and soon each other’s characters were showing up in other stories.  This game went on for 2 days.

Emily and Erin both wrote about this activity on their Slice of Life posts for the week.  They asked each other to proof their posts to make sure they were accurate.

So I discovered this amazing game called The Writer’s Toolbox. It lets you make up your own stories. It can be serious or funny. But it’s really hard to not make it funny because the prompts are so weird. One of them is “I was dressed in a completely inappropriate shade of pink.” That was one of mine.

All this got started with Juan when she just wanted some McNuggets and a case of Kool-Aid. But she and Helen became best friends cause they both loved to dance. Then Jimmy told them that they should become exotic dancers. Then Bob came along singing lalala with his dad behind him. Then Hillary popped out of nowhere with a toilet paper covered Sheila and Principal Barbara.  Also Melissa and Larry who were eating cat sandwiches. Can’t forget about Fred who just came back from Russia. Finally Mr.Margaret who drove them all insane.

Erin, 5th grade

I could not have planned this activity.  It would not have worked if I had.  The student-driven wild writing that took place delighted this writing teacher’s heart, but I didn’t say that to my students.  I don’t want to ruin whatever ferocity that drove this activity by putting the teacher approval stamp on it.

Erin’s feral writing, pages and pages of writing.


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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Jacob’s lovely painting for #More for AKR

Today, I am celebrating Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s birthday. This beacon of lovely died earlier this year, but she has left behind a legacy of kindness that is spreading like the fan of her yellow umbrella. Kirby Larson started a Facebook group. People from every state in the country have joined to celebrate today and do More. Amy’s lovely book I Wish You More has inspired a movement that will be felt globally today on her birthday.

I have been crocheting chemo bags out of fun colorful yarn. Students from my school have donated items to add to these kits. We will be delivering them to a local hospital for kids going through chemo.

I was inspired by Keri to buy a Peter Reynolds poster featuring one of Amy’s quotes. The posters will benefit the AKR Yellow Umbrella Foundation.

Here we are at the end of National Poetry Month, and I am wishing for more.  We made it to the letter O for Odes.  I read aloud a few of Pablo Naruda’s Ode to Common Things.  He was the master.  I love the way his odes read like a stream of consciousness.  I joined my students in writing odes.  And of course, I felt it appropriate to write an Ode to Poetry.

I’ve listen
to your song,
your rhyme,
rhythm–the tap,
tap, tap
of your dancing pen.

Oh poetry,
born of Pablo,
and Emily.
You hypnotize me.

A single line
can make my heart swell.
I can hear my own voice
echoing in your rivers.
Together we roam
the world,
hand in hand
finding flowers,
and geese
along the way.

I jump
into your arms,
oh, poetry.
Let me rock
on your squeaky swing,
holding onto
every word.
Pronouncing each syllable
with perfect pitch.

” On 4/29 at 4:20 PM, text someone I love you. This is what I would like for my birthday each year.” AKR

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

I love that we have a whole month of celebrating poetry.  My students walk into class each day and ask, “What kind of poem are we writing today?”  or “I have been thinking about writing a poem about wind.”

I’ve read articles, listened to podcast, and read lots of daily poetry this month.  I don’t want it to end!  Check on the progress of the Progressive Poem.  Listen to Laura Shovan on All the Wonders.  Find a selection of daily poem writers on Jama’s Alphabet Soup.  

Yesterday I got a postcard poem from Jone MacCulloch’s kids poetry group, an ode to cheating.  We will be trying out odes next week, so I’ll share this one with my students.  I love the irony of flying hearts and pencils around this topic of cheating.


Here’s my poem for today, a little haiku about our state flower Magnolia.  They are blooming!

magnolia haiku 4

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

I’ve had a wonderful week off this week.
A little bit of sleeping,
a little bit of reading,
some writing,
some walking,
some talking with friends.

Mostly, I did whatever I wanted to do.
This is what Spring Break should be.
No excuses.
No worries.
Just a stretch of time
to relax and be.

This is not really a poem. I just made it look like one. Last night, my husband and I drove to Breaux Bridge to hear the Nouveau String Band. Oh, this group is so much fun. Lots of dancing, smiling, and laughing happened here. I’m posting a YouTube video of one of the songs they did last night. Put on your dancing shoes.

Here’s an actual poem that I wrote after reading Caroline Starr Rose’s blog post and listening to All the Wonders podcast of Nikki Grimes combined with some toe-tapping moves of my own.

I’m Possible

I’m on the edge of possible
with two steps to the right
Two to the left
Toe tap and spin.

Inside of me
I have enough
to be who I want
to be, enough rhythm,
enough swing
to make my world sing.

You do, too!

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

I am writing in a hotel room in Mobile, Alabama. My husband and I are here for a wedding. Not one of ours, thank goodness. It’s strange to be just a visitor, someone without any responsibilities for this celebration. We just get to be here, be present to the love and happiness. Not to mention the weather is amazing. A perfect temperature with a bright blue sky.

This week I noticed the sky. On Friday while I opened car doors for children, I watched the sun rise and off to the side a wisp of cirrus clouds change color. At one time there was a small rainbow circle in the clouds.

Reading blog posts this morning, I found this one from Smack Dab in the Middle celebrating the power of simple sentence structure of Kate DiCamillo in my favorite of her books, The Miraculous Adventures of Edward Tulane. Deborah Lytton writes, “Every word has an important role to play in spare prose. If it isn’t essential, then it doesn’t belong.”

I was thinking about how my husband and I are mere observers today. This little poem came to me:

We are here.
Insignificant bystanders
walking the empty streets.
The sky is open, a fragrant blue.
I reach for your hand.
You feel my touch.
We are here.
–Margaret Simon, poem-a-day #8

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