Day 31

Woohoo!

I did it again!  For three years in a row now, I have participated in the Slice of Life Story Challenge hosted by twowritingteachers.org.  Participants in the Challenge pledge to write a slice of life blog post every day for the month of March and comment on at least three other posts.  Every year I have participated, I have learned so much about myself as a writer.

The biggest a-ha for me each year is that I am a writer.  As my friend SValter said on her blog readreflectteach.wordpress.com:

“We don’t have to consider ourselves a writer to be one. We simply need to fill a page with the words we want to remember and the things that are important to us.”

Such wise words.

I think sometimes as teachers we have grandiose ideas of what writing is.  We want our students to become Hemmingway or Shakespeare before we will call them writers.  But they don’t have to write the next great novel or play.   They just need to fill a page with words they want to remember and the things that are important to them.

The beautiful thing is we can all be writers.  All we have to do is pick up the pen or open the laptop.  The page is waiting for us.  No one else can tell our story.  No one else shares our voice. Thank you, Beth, Betsy, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie and Stacey for hosting the Challenge and helping me find my voice to tell my stories.  And, thank you to all of you who have commented on my writing this month.  (It is insane how badly I craved your feedback.) Thank you for taking the time to read my words and share your reactions, thoughts, and feelings.

Woohoo!  It’s time to celebrate!

SOL

A Lovely Surprise

I love finding new picture books.  On Mondays, I have a host of blogs I read to find new picture books to check out.  (www.thereisabookforthat.com, http://www.teachmentortexts.com, http://www.unleashingreaders.com)  I found a book recommended on one of the blogs a few weeks ago: The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet.  I put it on hold as soon as I came across it.

I ended up going to the library a few hours later and set about perusing the shelves in search of it on my own.  When I found it, I realized Carmen Agra Deedy had also written Yellow Star, The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark.  When I saw the cover, I immediately thought of my fourth-grade teachers who are currently on Lucy Calkins Historical Fiction reading workshop unit.  I knew they were currently reading Lowry’s Number the Stars as the mentor text for the work in this unit. I pulled both books off the shelf and proceeded to the checkout counter.

I sat down to read them when I returned home.  I was surprised to discover how nicely these texts pair together.  I started imagining the rich discussions students could have as they read this trio of texts.  These texts work together to support common themes, and when paired, would allow students who struggle with determining theme an opportunity to discover it.  I brought the books to one of my fourth-grade teachers this past Tuesday.  I explained what I had discovered and left them with her to share with her students.

When I stopped by her room this afternoon to pick the books up, I was greeted with a warm smile.

“Erin, you were right.  The kids made all sorts of connections, and our conversations were rich as the kids were discovering themes and comparing and contrasting the texts.  I’m so glad I took the time to read them.  Thank you for bringing them in.”  (Music to my ears!  I love hearing that kids are having rich discussions talking about books!)

If any of you are currently in the middle of the Historical Fiction Unit or are reading Number the Stars to your class, I encourage you to pick up these picture books from your local library or favorite bookstore.  You will not be disappointed.

SOL

Questions

I sat down to write my slice for today, and I couldn’t think.  All of these questions kept circling in my head.  I started and stopped several different posts.  Each time I had to stop and start something new.  The questions continued to get in my way.  I finally decided to make a post of the questions.  It reminds me of a post I did several years ago of all the questions my son asked me one morning in a period of about five minutes.  I guess now I know who he gets that behavior from.

 

How long will the acrid smell of burnt angel food cake stay in my house?

Will the smoke that was pouring out of the oven affect the taste of the cakes?

Why would the box say to use that size of pan when it VERY CLEARLY was not large enough?

Could I call Betty Crocker and ask them to come fumigate my house?

Are bugs going to fly in the open garage door and house door while I try to get the smoke out?

Should I just make a different dessert to go with the meal I am taking to a friend tomorrow?

What else would I make?

Do I have the stuff for Rice Krispie treats?  I can’t open the oven until it finishes its clean cycle.

What time do I have to get up tomorrow?

Do I have all the stuff I promised to bring teachers the last time I was there?

What will I wear?

What is the weather?

Do the boys have youth tomorrow night?

Can I go to bed yet?

Maybe I should delete all this and try again?

Could I write a poem?

Is there anything that sticks out from today?  Is there anything “slice worthy”?

Should I just give myself grace and go to bed?

.

.

Yes.

I should.

 

I guess this is what being a writer is.  Writing through the blocks and sticking to it even when it’s hard. 

 

Reading

Reading is about meaning.

It is not about Fundations’ endless phonics rules.

Reading is about meaning.

It is not about Pathways’ Vowel Hill.

Reading is about meaning.

It is not about reading Dibel’s nonsense words.

Reading is about meaning.

It is not about timers and the number of words you can read in one minute.

 

Reading is about losing oneself in someone else’s words and just coming up for breath when the last word is read.

Reading is about opening windows into worlds we have never experienced and likely never would if not for reading the words written about them.

Reading is about growing ideas and deepening understandings of people and places.

Reading is about making our big world smaller and helping us find our voice and space in it.

Reading is about magic wishes and dreams and dragons and quests and bravery and values and tradition and hope.

 

Why can’t we let kids fall in love with what reading is instead of teaching so hard everything that reading is not?

SOL

 

Walking

 

We had been driving all day.  Scott had a fantasy league baseball draft.  Max and I set out to explore Nashville.  The hotel was supposed to be close to Music Row.  Max was anxious to see it.  We set off walking.  About two blocks in, Max decides we need to use Google Maps.  Google wants us to turn around and walk the opposite direction.  We dutifully follow her directions.  Suddenly, we are there.  On Music Row. However, it looks more like a neighborhood.  The music recording studios were in old houses.  Beautiful old houses, but old houses nonetheless.  Max tried to hide his disappointment.  We walked till we reached the end, then headed back to the hotel.

As we walked through the backside of the parking garage into our hotel lobby, a sign outside caught my eye.

“Max, did you see that sign?”

“What sign?” he responded.

I grabbed his arm and pulled him out to the front.  I pointed to the sign at the end of the block.  The opposite direction from where we had started out walking close to an hour earlier.

“It says Music Row is that way.  The way we just came from.  I told you that was it,” I insisted.

Max walked to the end of the block and looked down the street.  “Mom, that is NOT where we just came from.  It’s PAST where we just came from.”

My feet were aching in my tennis shoes.  My throat was dry.  I desperately wanted something cold.  But he was why we were here.  “Alright, let’s go see what we just saw.”

We went around the corner and the street kind of snaked around.  Construction was in progress on one side of the street.  All of a sudden I looked in front of us and said, “Oh, I think we are here now.”

It was pretty amazing looking at these huge music studios for Sony, Word, Warner, and SO many others.  Not in houses.  In fancy modern buildings.  Historic signs were everywhere, sharing the backstory of what we were seeing.  All the studios had the huge banners in front of them celebrating the songs they had produced that had been nominated for big awards.  Some of the artists we had heard of, some we had not.  We spent another hour walking and taking pictures of the REAL Music Row.

Needless to say, he was no longer disappointed.

I’m so glad I was wrong!

SOL

Play Me a Song

Scott flips the TV off.  Max turns to look at me.

“Are you ready for some piano?” he asks.

“I’m going to write a post, pack, and go to bed,” I reply. 

“Just a little song? Before you go to bed? To make you sleepy?” he begs.

I look at his face.  I smile at his pleading eyes. “Sure. I would love it.”

He bounds from the chair and heads to the piano.  He pulls the bench out in one quick motion.  

Then he begins to play.  Music starts to fill every corner of the house. I love that he can sit down and play.  I’m envious that he can sit down and play. I can tell it’s Spring Break because music floats through the air throughout the day. During the school year, music doesn’t float as freely.  Schedules and activities demand more time.  But music is who he is. It is his DNA.  He gets life energy from it.  When he is gone, my house will be so quiet.  I can’t think about that. I’m not going there.

Right now, I will enjoy my personal, private concerts. I will savour his music. I will appreciate his gift. I will be thankful for my son.