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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I didn’t tweet out a topic for DigiLit this week because I’m in an end-of-the-year funk. In some ways I’m ready for this school year to close. I’m tired. I want to have time to relax, read, write, visit my parents, etc.

However, this time of year sends me into a sadness that I don’t really understand. The classrooms around me are loud. The teachers are out in the halls talking. Announcements over the intercom are warnings about the things we teachers need to turn in. Learning, questioning, quiet reading have all stopped. This week brings award ceremonies, splash days, and early dismissals. It’s time to pack up and put everything away for the yearly floor waxing.

“The classroom is so empty!”

While I was packing up, I filled a bag with books to take home. Some are middle grade books I haven’t read, a few poetry books to inspire my writing, and professional books I haven’t gotten around to reading yet.

Cathy Mere and Michelle Nero lead a Cyber PD each summer. I didn’t join in last summer because I was traveling a lot. But this summer I’m ready. They are asking teacher bloggers to share their professional book stacks on the Google+ #cyberpd page.

Michelle’s post here explains how to participate. They will announce the chosen book on June 3. The reading and posting will happen in July.

If you are writing a post today, please link up. If you are reading my post, please click the link to read more #DigiLitSunday posts.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

The end of the school year came too quickly this year. The Two Writing teachers blog series, however, helped prepare me for the inevitable- summer writing slide. Kidblog.org published this blog post of mine around summer writing.

The gifted program in my district has always recognized the need for summer reading.  We carefully choose a list of books and send home a required reading packet.  Last year we tweaked the requirements and the kids actually responded that they enjoyed doing the work.  The packet was designed around choice and activities that were interesting and motivating.

What about summer writing slide?  My students actively write every day of their time with me.  Will they keep writing over the summer?  Not likely.  So I took it upon myself to encourage summer writing.

I found a stack of summer postcards in my endless supplies of teacher stuff.  On each card, I placed a label with our kidblog site address, my home address, and my email address, three different ways my students could keep in touch over the summer.

Friday was our last official day together as these last two weeks are full of end of the year activities.  I brought out marbleized journals.  We start the school year decorating a journal for the year, so why not close the year with decorating a summer writing journal?

Have you started thinking about summer slide?  What are your plans?  Share your blog posts in the link below.

 

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

On Monday evening, I participated in #Wonderchat on Twitter.  The topic was led by Dr. Mary Howard: Instilling a Sense of Professional Wonder. If you are here reading this post, you are likely a person who wonders, reads, researches, and is always learning.

We are nearing the end of the school year and yet, I am still filled with professional wonderings. Three new books have arrived in the last few weeks, Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Reading by Vicki Vinton, Disrupting Thinking by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, and Joy Write by Ralph Fletcher.

If anyone is interested in a summer book study of one of the books above, let me know in the comments. Wouldn’t it be more fun to read if you have someone to discuss it with? Google docs work well for housing a book study.

Why do I keep buying professional books? You’d think I would know what I was doing after 30 years of teaching. But I am still learning. I want to continue to question what I do and why I do it. I think that is the definition of a professional. When I stop wondering about teaching, I should stop teaching.

During the #Wonderchat, Sarah Eaton posted a padlet for teacher wonders. I remade the padlet wall to house our posts today. (A test run for using padlet for the round up.) Double click inside the padlet to add to it. In addition to voicing our professional wonders here, perhaps we can also post ideas and links to further research. Be sure to put your name and a link to your post, so we can continue the conversation.

 

Made with Padlet

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

 

 

Cornelius Minor is one of those people who tells it like it is, and you say to yourself, “Oh, yeah.”  I was first impressed by him at NCTE16 in Atlanta when he spoke about the influence of Donald Graves at the Heinemann breakfast.  I captured a quote from him that morning, “We do not teach for mastery. We teach for revolution.”

Cornelius is the kind of man you could walk up to and on the first meeting hug him. He represents what I want to be.  Someone who speaks up.  Someone who loves with all that he has.

This weekend I listened to a podcast with Cornelius on the Heinemann website.  Please take some time to listen.  He speaks of being an advocate for a student who needed him.  In his voice, you can hear his determination as well as his kindness.

I think sometimes we teachers shy away from advocacy for our students for many reasons.  The main one is fear.  Fear of repercussions.  Fear for our own reputation. Fear of failure (or firing).

At that same breakfast we were asked to create our own credo for teaching writing.  (Here is the podcast of that morning.) The statement I wrote encompasses my thoughts about advocacy.  We must listen to our students.  We have to listen without judgement.  Listen to be the best advocate we can be for them.

 

On Thursday evening, Cornelius Minor will be a guest on the Good2Great chat on Twitter.

To join our conversation, please leave a link to your blog post below. To read more posts about advocacy, click the link.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I’m one of these people who believes that every day should be Mother’s Day or Teacher Appreciation Day or Earth Day.  But these annual celebrations serve a purpose.  They remind us that we need to stop and think about Mom or your teacher or the Earth.

As a teacher, part of my responsibility is to teach the truth.  I believe in Science.  Scientists are trained, dedicated people who care deeply about the world.  I know them.  They do not make things up.  One sign I saw online from the March for Science said, “Sometimes the truth is inconvenient.”  That does not mean that it is to be denied or disregarded.

In my area of the Earth, wetlands are disappearing at a rate of a football field an hour according to the US Geological Survey. Because of science, data, environmental agencies, and yes, federal funding, this trend is turning toward the positive.  When we pay attention, change can happen for the better.  We need our wetlands.

In Louisiana, wetlands have come into the limelight.  Educational programs help teach our students about their own home.  Education about the environment can begin in your own backyard.

Next week I am taking a student to meet with a water testing chemist just down the street from our school.  A few months ago, my students met with a naturalist about an oak tree in our area.  They learned about the importance of preserving our oaks.

I did not join the local March for Science, but I am being intentional about how and what I teach my students.  They are the future stewards of our Earth.  It is our responsibility to make them care.

I am writing poetry every day for National Poetry Month.  Today I wrote an ode to the Earth.  I used pictures from my files to create an Animoto video.

 

If you are joining the conversation, please add your link below.

 

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

In my classes this week, I introduced the ABCs of poetry. We have written a poem everyday using a different poetic form. My partner for two of these exercises was Read, Write, Think. This amazing site full of lessons for teaching reading and writing also includes student interactives.

For the letter A, we used this one for Acrostics. My students had free choice for the words they chose to write about. The interactive allows for brainstorming and also gives word suggestions. The final form appears as a downloadable pdf. I taught my students how to take a screenshot of the pdf, paste it into paint, and save as a jpeg. They uploaded their jpeg images into our Kidblog site.

Two very different poems above. Erin is a fifth grader. She’s been going through a rough time lately, so I gave her a wishing rock inside a prayer pouch that I had crocheted. Her poem grew from her strong desire to have her dreams come true.

Lynzee was writing from the moment. I had brought in left over cookies from a writing group meeting. She chose chocolate chip and this moment became the subject of her poem. Don’t you love the word voraciously? She is such an avid reader that her vocabulary is advanced. She loves using new words, and I enjoy our conversations about them.

Another interactive we used this week was for diamante poems. In this form, my students selected antonyms or nouns that had near opposite meanings. Like acrostic, this form allows students to explore word meanings. They looked for words that were specific to their chosen noun.

Lani, 5th grade, wrote honestly about her feelings around life and death. Andrew was reading a book entitled “Gross Science” so his poem explored the difference between beautiful and gross. We talked about how each one depends on a person’s perspective.

I hope you will consider playing with language by using these interactives from Read, Write, Think. Happy National Poetry Month!

If you are writing a DigiLitSunday post, link up below.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Do your students ever ask, “Why are we doing this?” Friday we celebrated the completion of the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Kathleen from Two Writing Teachers shared a Google Slide Show in which she posed these questions to student bloggers:

I discussed these questions with each of my class groups. Sometimes I wonder if my students really understand why we do this. I can see the benefits daily. Each day, they try to do better, write more, and add more craft into their writing. But it’s more than that. They grow as human beings, too. They share a piece of who they are and who they are becoming.

Noah said, “I learned that when you write on the blog, you are showing other people who you are.”

Sometimes these are hard lessons. These kids are at an age where they are still figuring it all out. They try stuff. They write things that may not be true to who they are or want to be. This blog space becomes a safe place for them to express whatever is on their minds.

Erin said she has learned to be more open. Kaiden has expressed emotions through figurative language. And even Tobie said he learned he wasn’t so bad at poetry.

With all the balking about writing every day and even the multiple posts of things like Google tricks, writer’s block, and “Idontevenknowwhywearedoingthis” posts, my students grew as writers and as people making their way in the world. I am grateful to the Two Writing Teachers, especially Kathleen and Lanny who led the classroom challenge. Another year down and many lessons learned.

I am sharing Kaiden’s clever poem about writer’s block.

A vacuous screen

filled with a picture

of a polar bear

in a snowstorm.

Snow swirling,

chills sinking

into your skin

in this winter wonderland.

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