There was much to love about building a classroom community filled with mostly same-aged students and designing plans for daylong learning across all subject areas. Now, there is much to love about sitting side-by-side with one or two students at a time from across the grade levels and getting to know each as readers, writers, and fascinating human beings. Here are some random snippets from the first few weeks on the job:
3rd grader: “You know why I like science? It never ends.”
4th grader: “I like the Harry Potter books, but I kind of have a problem with J.K. Rowling’s stand on trans people. My cousin is trans.”
3rd grader: “The other reading teacher gave us lollipops if we were good.” Me: “I’m not sure if I’m a lollipop kind of teacher.” “That’s okay. You’re nice anyway.”
5th grader: “I always use ‘adieu’ as my first word in Wordle, but I don’t know what it means.” (a small French lesson ensued)
3rd grader: Making random words with Scrabble tiles: add…wood…one…to…make…a…bat… “No, that should be ‘add one wood to make a bat.’ This is like an equation! What do you call the person who makes a bat? This makes more sense: ‘add one wood carver to make a bat.’ “
2nd grader: “How do you spell ‘George?’ “ Me: “Your name’s not George; why do you want to spell that?” “George was the husband of Beatrice, a WWII engineer who could fix anything.” (Likely this book, and no surprise: he likes to read informational text.)
4th grader: “I learned a new word today: toey. T-O-E-Y. When I play Words With Friends, I always check to see what I could have played for more points. Toey would have been worth 48 points.” Me: “What do you think toey means? If something is juicy, it’s full of juice. Do you think toey means full of toes? (laughter) Let’s look it up.” (Amazement when I open the Merriam Webster app from the first screen on my phone. But it wasn’t there! So I opened a web browser and demonstrated the “define ___” search and we found it. Toey means nervous, anxious, worried.) Me: “I hope the rest of your day isn’t toey!”
Four of us Poetry Friday Peeps read and discussed THE HURTING KIND one section at a time in August. It was the best #sealeychallenge activity ever. We got more out of this book with a slow read and deep conversations than we ever would have by plowing through it in a day and checking it off our to-do list.
If you haven’t read THE HURTING KIND, I highly recommend it. Here is the book trailer with Ada Limón reading the final poem in the book.
Here is a cento I made with almost all of the poem titles in the second section, Summer. The words in italics are the only words I added.
The Poetry Sisters wrote bop poems this month. They have three stanzas (6 lines, 8 lines, 6 lines) and a repeating refrain. Additionally, the three stanzas should 1. introduce a problem, 2. elaborate on it, and 3. solve it. Our shared refrain was “Let’s kick that can down the road.”
My first challenge was to thing of something I’d “kick down the road” without trying to fix it. Something I can absolutely do without. Well, that’s easy…dusting!
Here’s what the rest of the Poetry Sisters came up with this month:
Next month, we’ll be writing Heidi’s Definito Poems: the definito is a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at readers 8-12 years old) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem. Join us if you’d like!
Next week I begin a new part time job that seems like it will be a better fit for my skillset than washing dishes at Sur la Table: I’m the Reading Specialist for the Clintonville Resource Center’s Kids Clubs, their after school program. There are three sites, and I’ll spend about two hours a week at each site working to help K-5 children become better readers (and writers).
I know exactly what to do, and yet I have no idea what I’m doing.
I have no classroom to prepare, no classroom library from which to easily pull books, no real context for the work we will do or real influence outside of the bits of time we will spend together.
If it was true as a classroom teacher, it is even more true now: I have to make every minute count. Guess what I’m planning to use as short texts that are brimming with all kinds of instructional moves for students of all ages? POETRY, of course! And because poetry is often neglected in the regular classroom, that is where I hope to find my opportunity for context and influence.
Just like in the classroom, we will begin by getting to know each other. We’ll start by sharing our favorites — favorite foods, favorite things to do, favorite (and maybe not so favorite) ways to feel.
We’ll talk and read and draw and write. I’ll listen, ask, and notice. All very good places to begin, even when you think you have no idea what you’re doing.
August is a juicy piece of fruit with the seed of Fall at its center. In spite of all the lush growth of Summer, the brown of Autumn is at the heart of August. August marks the shift from the production of leaves, to the production of seeds. Life must go on, come Spring, and August see(d)s to that.
We had a nice turnout for the July meet-up of Ohio Women on the Fly. Spirits were high as we walked from the parking lot at Antrim Lake to the Olentangy River, which runs near the south and east sides of the lake. The clouds were building, but we weren’t worried — rain was not in the forecast.
We got soaked. Drenched. We were soggy, and by the time we got back to cars when it was starting to get dark, muddy up to our knees.
It was great fun. It was an adventure. When was the last time you had an adventure (the kind involving lots of water and mud)? I highly recommend it.
Every time I go fly fishing, the experience is new. No two times on a river are the same. That’s why fly fishing is a sport I love.
Catherine gave the Inklings this month’s challenge to write a poem about sports. Here’s what the rest of the crew came up with, and Molly has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup to boot.
This month’s Poetry Sisters challenge didn’t seem tricky when the idea was hatched. Phrase Acrostics are pretty much reverse Golden Shovels, with the striking line on the left rather than the right. But then er…uh..someone suggested using phrases from the iconic poem by Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise.” That’s when the challenge got tricky more complicated and interesting. How could we borrow phrases from this poem while still honoring the poet and the spirit of the poem without being appropriationist? Reading and rereading the poem with the intention to uphold Angelou’s purpose led me to these two drafts, which weave lines and meanings like a braided rug on a warm wood floor. Both of the titles, as well as the striking lines, come from Angelou’s poem.
A couple of weeks ago, Linda (A Word Edgewise) offered up her third annual “Clunker Exchange.” I chose the line “That’s what you wrote about the green beans,” and I couldn’t have been more surprised by the poem (and memories) those eight words were able to elicit. Thank you, Linda, for this beautiful not-a-clunker-to-me!
Now let’s see what you’ve been writing (or reading) these days! Are you getting ready to take part in the Sealey Challenge? Share your stack if you’ve made one! Can’t imagine reading a book of poetry every day in August? Children’s poetry books count!!
I’m going totally old-school with the roundup this week. Leave your link and a short description in the comments. That’s it. If you’re not able to comment for some reason, I’ll help: mary lee dot hahn at gmail
Is it Friday already? How did THAT happen? Must be another side effect of…what’s it called when you can’t remember words or names or dates?
Sigh. Aging is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Elisabeth at Unexpected Intersections has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup, and it’s a good thing I had to double check that because I had it in my calendar that I have the roundup on the 29th, which I don’t — the roundup is here NEXT WEEK! Sigh (again). The struggle is real…