Monthly Archives: May, 2016

#SOL16: A Favor


It began with an email. Late Sunday evening, an email in my inbox with the subject, “Five pound favor, please.” I was on the receiving end of chuckles from colleagues every time I recounted the story. Was it not believable? Was it too far from the norm?

And then the box arrived. A perfect cube. Two foot by two foot by two foot. Except for its size, totally inconspicuous in a normal, brown cardboard box. Two layers of packing bubbles hid the goods. Oh, no the corner of the bag was open! White and teal orbs peeked out from around the bag. Fortunately for me the box had arrived early. I had some leisure time to study the size and shape. How would it be best to repack this package for its safe trip to Florida?

On the day of the flight I had my typical early morning pre-dawn arrival at the Des Moines International  Airport. My boarding pass and ID were verified in the TSA pre-check line. Easy peasey! No waiting!  My phone was in the bowl. My two carry-on bags were on the conveyor belt as I strolled through the scanner. No hands over head. No stopping to hold a pose. The line was moving quickly, quietly, efficiently! And then the line slowed. The man in front of me had his carry-on bag inspected by hand. I saw the location of his bag as my items slowly emerged on the conveyor belt. Phone, check. Computer bag, check. I held my breath. Oh, no, the turquoise carry-on bag was pulled off the line to be inspected.

Darn it. All because of my favor. I wish I could have seen how indistinguishable that item looked in the top of my bag. A Thermos lunch bag cooler, five pounds of teal and white candies inside, carefully cocooned in two layers of bubble wrap to keep them from crumbling and occupying approximately one-third of the space in my carry-on bag.

Have you ever wondered about which candy is most popular?  The Mars company claims its M&Ms® are the most popular chocolate candy in the world.  The coated candies were created in the 1930s in order to add a chocolate candy to soldiers’ meals that would not melt. How are they made?  The candies begin as liquid chocolate poured into tiny molds. They are then “tumbled” to make the chocolate center smooth and rounded. After they harden, a liquid chocolate and corn syrup coating is sprayed on them. Multiple coats. Multiple drying times. The color is the very last coat that is applied. You can read more about how M&Ms® are made here. Additional factoids about M&Ms® can be found through google searches. I wondered how many M&Ms® were in my five pound package? At one point, I had around 2500 M&Ms® in my possession.

My favor, requested by my favorite younger sister, was to deliver five pounds of teal and white M&Ms® for my favorite oldest Florida nephew’s graduation party.  The company would not ship them in May to Davie, Florida because of the fear of melting. So after a 1500 mile special delivery trip, here is what the hand stamped M&Ms® looked like and why a TSA screener in Iowa is still asking his peers, “Did you know that M&Ms®  could be printed with a picture on them and all kinds of other sayings?”

Neel m and m

Have you had personalized M&Ms®?  Did you ever wonder about their creation? Or their delivery to their final destination?  What stories could your M&Ms® tell?

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thank you for this weekly forum!

 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Visual structures of this draft of the essay above based on my current understanding of Chapter 3:  The Journey is Everything.

7 paragraphs

  • The favor – 5 paragraphs
  • M&Ms® – 1 paragraph
  • Questions for readers – 1 paragraph

7 paragraphs

  • Introduction to the favor – 1
  • The story- 3 paragraphs
  • M&Ms® – 1
  • The specifics of the  favor – 1
  • Picture
  • Questions for readers – 1

 

7 paragraphs

  • The mystery – 2 paragraphs
  • DSM airport story (the mystery continues) – 2 paragraphs
  • M&Ms® – 1
  • The  favor revealed (including picture) – 1
  • Questions for readers – 1

 

7 paragraphs

  • The Favor
  • Hint
  • Mini-story – hint (2 paragraphs)
  • M&Ms®
  • Explicit reveal (with picture)
  • Involve reader with questions

How would you map the structure?

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#DigiLit Sunday: Perspective


It’s time to write about this week’s topic “Perspective”.

As I think of drafting, revising, editing, and publishing this post, I also think about the technology that enables me to write more efficiently and effectively than ever before.

Will technology be my friend?  

Will my computer cooperate?

laptop

How will I know?  As an early morning “writer”, I am quite OCD about early publication so I can move on to the “heart of the day”.

Will my screen look like this?

operator

Will I throw up my hands in the air and quit?

Who will win?

The person?

Or the machine?

Will I work collaboratively for a “Win-Win” situation to accomplish the task without drama or frustration?

It’s ALL about perspective!

It’s your choice!

What’s your MINDSET?

Thanks for the topic, Margaret!  Check out more #DigiLit Sunday posts at Margaret Simon’s blog,  Reflections on the Teche.

digilit

 

 

 

 

#SOL16: Choose Kind!


keep calm and choose kind.png

When someone stumbles,

Choose kind, and help them right themself.

When someone questions,

Choose kind, and answer patiently.

When someone is stuck,

Choose kind, and ask “How can I help?”

When someone is hungry,

Choose kind, and teach them to cook.

When someone is lonely,

Choose kind, and be there for them.

When someone is sad,

Choose kind, and cheer then up.

Whe someone is tired,

Choose kind, and help them find rest.

When someone is struggling,

Choose kind, and help them find their path.

When someone is silent,

Choose kind, and listen intently to what is not said.

When someone is afraid,

Choose kind, and calm their fears.

Don’t wait for them to ask for help . . .

Choose kind, and be there waiting

Shoulder to shoulder,

Heart to heart,

A friendly face and

. . . that steady, helping hand !!!

Slow down, look around, REALLY look with your heart.  

How can you lend a helping hand, a calming voice, or shelter in the midst of a raging storm?

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, and Stacey. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thank you for this weekly forum!

#Digilit Sunday: Intent


This weekend the Twitter stream provided many insights about Literacy, Literacy Instruction, and “Intent”.  A powerhouse line up was present at the New England Reading Association conference (#NERA2016) in Portland, Maine. You can see the speakers and topics here. This post celebrates the Twitterverse that allowed me to curate these ideas from afar.

What is reading?

what is reading glover and collins NERA 2016

At #NERA2016 Saturday, Matt Glover and Kathy Collins proposed this expansive definition.  Many questions immediately came to mind.

Who does the work of reading?

What is the intent of reading?

What does this require of a teacher?

This quote from @chrisclinewcps says so much about some of the characteristics of “INTENT”!

intent one Chris Cline chrisclinewcps

At the opening session of #NERA2016, Ralph Fletcher fired an early shot across the bow with this slide.  Think about these three questions as you read the content on his slide.

What was his intent?  

What is the message for teachers?  

What is the message for students?

intent nera 2016 more choice ralph fletcher

As a reader, what was Ralph Fletcher’s message?

How important is choice?

Is choice just for students?

Is choice also for teachers?

And that connected to Paula’s tweet:

intent four vicki vinton beliefs

And during the panel for The Teacher You Want to Be, Vicki Vinton also said,

intent three vicki vinton kids CAN do it!

What does this mean in writing?

Paula also tweeted out this learning from Jeff Anderson (@writeguyjeff) about the role of grammar in writing.

intent nera 2016 write guy jeff

Is the intent to have students do the work?  

Are students doing the thinking?

intent nera2016  dan feigelson

Dan Feigelsen is crystal clear in his intent.

Are you?

Pernille Ripp asks this question:

intent pernille rip

Her May blog post here addressed specific steps to create writing communities.

How do your students know the intent of your writing instruction?

Empowering students to do the work is the basis of Jan and Kim’s book. If you have not yet checked out this book, you need to do so!

work

According to the #NERA2016 program, Vicki Vinton’s session was

Vicki Vinton: Beyond Book Choice: What Student-Center Reading Instruction Can Look Like

According to the educator John Holt, “Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” And in this interactive session, Vicki Vinton will share ways of ensuring that the activity of students and their thinking—versus curriculum and standards—are at the center of your reading instruction, whether you’re working with a whole class, a small group or one-on-one conference. You’ll see how to become a creator of learning opportunities, rather than a teacher of strategies and skills, which in turn will help students become powerful and insightful meaning makers, thinkers and readers.

The intent of “student-centered reading instruction” is for learning to be at the center of student work. How do you work towards this every day?

intent five vicki vinton student-centered reading

What do you notice as a reader?

What do you DO with / or make of what you noticed?

intent vicki vinton thinking opportunities for Ss and Ts

Because the intent is reading deeply, thoughtfully, and authentically!

intent vicki vinton and meeting the standards

What are your beliefs?

What is your intent?

digilit

Check out other thoughts about “intent” on #DigiLit Sunday with Margaret Simon here.

And special thanks to all who tweeted from #NERA2016 and especially to their Twitter Ambassadors:  @LitCoachLady, @literacydocent and @guerrette79.

 

#SOL16: Counting Down


school

Single digits now remain

Where once 180 were yet unwrapped.

Days filled with reading, writing, speaking and listening

Math, science, social studies and all those specials.

Time

Days rushed by

90 minutes plus of reading

Was it enough?

What remains?

Time

Time to continue learning

Time to celebrate learning

Time

Time to read and write

Advice for the next class

Wishes for the next year

Time

Final blog entries

Final skype sessions

Time

Saying “hello” as we acknowledge where we began

Saying “goodbye” as we note our accomplishments

Yes, Time

Time for more reading and more writing

Making our summer plans

Because reading and writing don’t end

Although the 180 days will soon close the classroom door.

We are readers and writers EVERY day!

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, and Stacey. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thank you for this weekly forum!

#Digilit Sunday: Refresh


digilit

The year is winding down,

Data is accumulating,

Plans are being made,

How will you refresh?

Do you have a #TBR (To Be Read) stack of professional books?

Here’s my current stack of various stages from “want to read, to several chapters read, to must revisit the book.

Writers notebook,

A snippet here

A line there

Collecting ideas

Writing long

Developing some mentor texts.

What will you write?

One task of mine includes organizing and curating resources.

Still in development, this is a current draft.

Teaching,

Facilitating,

Learning,

and growing.

REFRESH!

keep learning.jpg

What will you be doing?

learning

I am currently in a Voxer book chat for Who’s Doing the Work, that is so incredibly amazing (as well as two other Voxer groups). I will be at TCRWP in June for the Writing and Reading Institute.  I will continue to be part of #TWT, #TCRWP, and #G2Great chats. I hope to see you refreshing digitally in the Twitterverse, Blogosphere or VoxerWorld!

And, oh, yes, I will REFRESH with family . . .

my grandson’s birthday party to celebrate ONE year,

a nephew’s graduation, and

my daughter-in-law’s birthday!

party

 

 

#SOL16: Chatting about Mentor Texts


#TWTBlog  had these questions for their #Twitter Chat about “Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts”. Were you there?  Which questions/answers really helped you grow in your thinking about mentor texts?

Twtblog 5.9.16 chat mentor texts

This chat was a culmination of a week long series about Mentor Texts and in case you missed it, here are the links:

“Tuesday, May 3: Reading Like a Writer, Step-By-Step by Elizabeth Moore (that’s me!)

Wednesday, May 4: Student-Written Mentor Texts by Deb Frazier

Thursday, May 5: How to Choose and Mine Mentor Texts for Craft Moves by Stacey Shubitz

Friday, May 6: Digital Mentor Texts for Blogs by Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski

Saturday, May 7: Create Your Own Text by Dana Murphy

Sunday, May 8: When to Use Mentor Texts by Betsy Hubbard” (5/9/16 link)

 

Previously I’ve written about mentor texts here, here, here, here, and here.

So why on earth am I writing about Mentor Texts again?  

Well, there are whole books about Mentor Texts that include ten of my favorites below and Stacey Shubitz’s Craft Moves:  Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts that will ship from Stenhouse in June of 2016! (You can preview it here.) And I was just lucky enough, with my friend, Melanie Meehan, to win a FREE copy last night as a participant in the chat!

So, if I have 10 of these 11 books (soon to be 11 of 11) about Mentor Texts, why am I writing about them again?

I know that it’s a total shock to some of my readers, but I must admit that I am a bibliophile. There are very few books that I’ve met that are NOT my immediate friends (except for the fantasy, scifi, vampire type books that I often just AVOID)!

Collecting samples of mentor texts has been helpful in my study of the craft of writing. Each of these books leads me to other authors, books, and even publishers that allow me to deepen my knowledge of author’s craft.  I’ve been a writer, off and on, for decades.  But during that writing time, I have NOT always studied writing.  Instead I was playing at writing and sometimes only “practicing” writing.  I trusted the authors above to choose texts that would surely be magical mentors for either myself or my students.

Recently my study of writing has been more reflective and my goal has been to define the elements that work (as well as WHY) and YET sometimes I STILL totally miss the mark! The books above provided a safety net because I did NOT trust my own judgement of mentor texts. I knew there was no “magic list” and YET I still thought there was often something magical about these books that FAMOUS AUTHORS had placed on their lists of Mentor Texts. Reading through their choices was like Intro to Mentor Texts 101. I could see what they chose and why and try to imitate that.

What did I learn from tonight’s chat?

The chat was just like “Field of Dreams” . . . “Build it and they will come!”

Stars on the Twitter Red Carpet #TWTBlog included:

  • Ralph Fletcher
  • Lynne Dorfman
  • Rose Cappelli
  • Ruth Culham
  • Kim Yaris
  • Jan Miller Burkins
  • Lisa Eickholdt
  • Shana Frazin
  • Cornelius Minor
  • Emily Butler Smith
  • Dr. Mary Howard
  • Tara Smith
  • Catherine Flynn
  • Melanie Meehan
  • Jessie Miller
  • Leigh Anne Eck
  • Lisa Keeler
  • Margaret Simon
  • TWT Team – Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, and Stacey

The storified chat is available here.

But here are a couple of my favorite tweets that I am still thinking about in response to Q5) “Why are teacher-written mentor texts important? How do you use them?” . . .

power of mentor text

power of mentor text two

and this all important one from Dana on Q1 about reading mentor texts:

tweet

The conversations last night were rich. I will be reviewing the storify as I know I missed some. And like any great texts, some tweets will need to be revisited!

Who are your writing mentors?

What are your favorite mentor texts?

How would we know?

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, and Stacey. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thank you for this weekly forum!

 

 

#DigiLit Sunday: Curves


digilit

Today, Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche proposed changing perspective and thinking about “Curves” as they occur in nature and that the curves of roses can even remind us of our communities of friends, co-workers and co-writers in her post here.

And then Tara wrote this post titled, “Digilit Sunday:  Curving towards social justice through song” and I was really stuck in thinking about how “curves” applies to my life.

And then an old quote came to mind:

“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” Archimedes

But should you live your life in a straight line?

““Straight lines go too quickly to appreciate the pleasures of thejourney. They rush straight to their target and then die in thevery moment of their triumph without having thought, loved,suffered or enjoyed themselves.” Rene Crevel

Do you know this book?

The-Straight-Line-Wonder

It’s a favorite of mine that unfortunately is sitting on an office shelf.  but here’s why it fits in this post.

“To jump in humps” . . .

“Twirl in whirls” . . . 

“Creep in heaps” . . .

“Point his joints” . . . 

Just as the world needs all kinds of people, it also needs more than straight lines.

” It’s about being able to be different without being punished for it. Has the world changed since then? I doubt it, sadly. We are still made uncomfortable by those who refuse to live within our prescribed ‘straight’ lines.” Mem Fox

When must one’s life deal with “curves”?

When must one stand for personal beliefs?

When must one deviate from the straight line?

Celebrate: Mother’s Day


mom at Evans wedding

Happy Mother’s Day!

In this post for Mom’s birthday two years ago, I promised to write my own poem for the next special ocasion. What on earth was I thinking?  Not thinking . . . promising!  Silly me!

Research!!!

I found 30 poems here.  And some stories here.  And numerous ways/languages to say “Mother”are below.

mother

How will you honor your mother?

I love the idea of Mom-isms. And these online here are precious.

What is Momism?

As a kid and even during our growing up years, we receive some sound scolding from our mothers time and again. These sharp comments and directives raise our indignation and irritation and we love to dismiss them as “unnecessary criticism” or “momism”. But the fact is, we would not have mended many of our wrongdoings and grown up to be socially amiable without many of these timely utterances from our mothers. Amusingly, most of us grow up to mouth the same sayings of our mothers when we find ourselves in her shoes. This mother’s Day, let us take a look at some well known “momisms”. With little variations, these phrases have been repeated again and again by mothers around the world, irrespective of race, caste, social standing and religion. You may even find some of your own mom’s sayings here. Enjoy this article and have a great reading time.

  1. What if everyone jumped off a cliff? Would you do it, too?
  2. If I talked to my mother like you talk to me….
  3. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
  4. “If you see a penny pick it up, put it in your drawer and it will grow”.
  5. “Peel one potato per person, and one for the pot”.
  6. “What goes around comes around.”
  7. What’s meant to be, is meant to be.
  8. I’ve got eyes in the back of my head, that’s how!
  9. You tell that bully to cut it out or you’ll tell the teacher…
  10. You have enough dirt behind those ears to grow potatoes!
  11. Honestly… You’d lose your head if it wasn’t screwed on!
  12. Who’ll end up walking, bathing and feeding it…?
  13. Get that thing out of your mouth!
  14. You’ll understand when you have kids of your own.
  15. I hope that when you grow up, you have kids “Just Like you”!
  16. I’ve told you a thousand times not to do so.
  17. If you hurt yourself, don’t come running to me.
  18. Work hard! You were not born with a silver spoon in your mouth.
  19. Close that door! Were you born in a barn?
  20. It doesn’t matter what you accomplish, I’ll always be proud of you.

Read more at http://www.theholidayspot.com/mothersday/momism.htm#xG0BccMWZq8swTtt.99

And my wandering took me to one of my favorite all time videos that I often use to humorously talk about rate, enunciating clearly and prosody. A total of 2 minutes and 55 seconds of  Anita Renfroe’s “The Mom Song”.

Link

I recognize several statements in that video that I used more than once as a “mom”, “aunt” and “teacher”.  I don’t recognize as many that my mom used.  Maybe it was because there were MANY of us.  Or maybe my memory just didn’t retain those ideas!

mom-and-obama

Dear Mom,

On this Mother’s Day Eve,

Thank you for sharing your love of books.

Because of you I’m an eclectic and voracious reader.

Thank you for sharing your love of cooking.

Because of  you I’m an intrepid experimenter in the kitchen.

Thank you for sharing your love of people – you know no strangers.

Because of you I can often find other Iowans and family members as I travel.

Thank you for never saying, “I told you so” and always being supportive.

Because of you I’ve learned that life is not always a bed of roses but pretty blooms do have some thorns.

Thank you for teaching me that doing the right thing is more important than being right.

Because of you I’ve learned that the hard times are great learning times because words and actions do matter.

Thank you for your love and attention

Because of you I’m the person that I was clearly meant to be!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Love,

Fran

 

Thank you, Ruth, for this call to celebrate.  celebrate link up

 

#SOL16: Teacher Appreciation


teacher appreciation

Teacher Appreciation is every day, every week but a special mention is definitely appropriate as the school year winds down!

teacher acrostic.JPG

What characteristics of a teacher are most important for you?

What do you want to “hold onto” this week?

(And for an added bonus, can you name some of the authors / texts that influenced the words and descriptors above?)

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thank you for this weekly forum!

 

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