Friday, October 27, 2017

Creating Reading Memories

Each week Ruth Ayres extends an invitation to share the celebrations from our week.  Why don't you join the celebration?
Today I celebrate One Book, One District, One Community, a project I have been working on since the beginning of the school year.   The project revolved around the book Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. 

With the help of community sponsors and our school corporation administrators, we were able to purchase over 1,400 books.  Each student in our four elementary schools received their own copy.  Third through fourth grade received the novel, and our pre-school through second grade received the picture book, We Are All Wonders.

Teachers have been reading the book this month and participating in kindness activities.  Today was "Distribution Day," the day the students received their copy of the books.  I had the privilege to be at all four schools and to watch the magic.  

What a day for celebration! 

The smiles on their faces when they carefully held these books in their hands was pure joy.  Many of them sat right down and began turning the pages or tried to find the spot where their teacher was reading.

At one school, I knelt down and talked with a few of the students as their teachers were passing out the books.  Here are some of their reactions:

"Is this book really mine?"

"Do we get to take these home?

"Now I can read ahead of my teacher...but I won't tell what happens."

"I can't wait to take this home and read it to my mom."

The little girl in the pink jacket looked up at me and was the first one to say, "Thank you."  My heart melted because I could tell by her sweet little face that her thank you was so sincere.

As literacy teachers, we spend our days building reading communities, showing our students the importance of having a reading life, and hoping that we somehow provide the spark that ignites their love of reading. 

Our students won't look back and remember our most engaging lesson, or a grammar worksheet they mastered, or a standardized test prep packet.   

Our hope is that for the short time we have them in our classrooms, we create reading memories.  That we read aloud a book that changes them.  That we place a book in their hands that teaches them empathy, or that becomes a mirror where they see themselves, or that gives them hope.  

We want them to look back and say, "Remember that time when we read..."  We want to be memory makers because...

Reading memories trigger reading lives.
(Click to tweet.)

And that is what today was all about. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sifter #poetryFriday

Welcome to Poetry Friday and my little corner of the world!  This is my first time hosting, and I appreciate you stopping by to share your bit of poetry with all of us.

My last Donor's Choose project was a collection of poetry books.  Some were old, some were new, but all revolved around the teenage years.  Today I share with you some thoughts and words from from Naomi Shihab Nye in her book, A Maze Me.

In the introduction to this book, Naomi shares her worry about becoming a teenager and wanting to hang on to childhood just a little bit longer.   In one part she talks about not remembering "the name of a single junior high school teacher."  Yet she could name every elementary teacher and most of her high school teachers.  She asks, "What happened in between?"

Naomi says when she turned seventeen, "I started feeling as if my soul fit my age again, or my body had grown to fit my brain.  When she was in college, she met Nellie Lucas, an eccentric women, who taught Naomi to "slow down and to pay better attention to everything" and to have faith about "growing up."

One of the best pieces of advice I found for want-to-be writers is, "If you write three lines down in a notebook every day (they don't have to be important, they don't have to relate to one another, you don't have to show them to anyone) will find out what you notice.  Uncanny connections will be made visible to you.  That's what I started learning when I was twelve, and I never stopped learning it."

She compares growing up as "Every year unfolds like a petal inside all the years that preceded it.  You will feel your thinking springing up and layering inside your huge mind a little differently.  Your thinking will befriend you.  Words will befriend you.  You will be given more than you could ever dream."

What follows these wise words, is a collection of 72 poems. Below is my favorite.

~Naomi Shihab Nye

When our English teacher gave
our first writing assignment of the year,
become a kitchen implement
in 2 descriptive paragraphs, I did not think
butcher knife or frying pan,
I thought immediately 
of soft flour showering through the little holes
of the sifter and the sifter's pleasing circular
swishing sound, and wrote it down.
Rhoda became a teaspoon,
Roberto a funnel,
Jim a muffin tin
and Forrest a soup pot.
We read our paragraphs out loud.
Abby was a blender.  Everyone laughed
and acted giddy but the more we thought about it, 
we were all everything in the whole kitchen,
drawers and drainers,
singing teapot and and grapefruit spoon
with serrated edges, we were all the 
empty cup, the tray.
This, said our teacher, is the beauty of metaphor.
It opens doors.
What I could not know then was how being a sifter
would help me all year long.
When bad days came
I would close my eyes and feel them passing
through the tiny holes.
When good days came
I would try to contain them gently
the way flour remains
in the sifter until you turn the handle.
Time, time. I was a sweet sifter in time
and no one ever knew.

Shihab Nye, Naomi. "A Maze Me: Poems for Girls." Harper Collins Publishers:  New York, NY. 2005.

May we all become sifters.  
Thank you for visiting today, and please share your link below.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Gown of Gold ~ Poetry Friday

It's Poetry Friday, and Irene has the round-up at Live Your Poem.

It is a glorious Poetry Friday, and I am on fall break.  I have spent the last three days trying to finish up a grad course.  I started classes in September and my reading and writing life has taken a downturn.  Today, while sitting outside, I decided I needed a break.  I thought catching up on blog posts from friends was just the thing I needed.

My first stop was Terje's at Just For a Month.  She posted photos from a fall walk, and they are gorgeous.  Next stop was Margaret's at Reflections on the Teche, where I read her Poetry Friday post, a collection of student poems.  

In my comment to her, I said how much I wanted to take time out from studying and just write.  

And so I did.

I went back to Terje's pictures because they always give me inspiration.  Jotted down some thoughts and ideas in my notebook.  Marked many out and tried again.  So instead of writing about learning theories, I wrote about fall and her gown of gold.  

Next week I host the round-up, so I hope to see you here.

Gown of Gold

Photo by Terje Akke, Estonia
I stand tall in my gown of gold,
sleeves stretching endlessly
to cover your bareness.

I pause and ponder
the change which will
become our destiny.

I glance one last time
at my reflection
in the mirror.

I bask in my moment of glory
and hesitantly wait 
for winter’s wardrobe.

©Leigh Anne Eck, 2017