Friday, April 25, 2014

[R@ndom] New Favorite Things Friday #5

For my new favorite things this week I have focused on things that are orange. There is no reason for this other than the things I thought of first were orange and themes are always fun.

I found this app accidentally one of the many nights this week that I couldn't sleep. It reminds you to post things you are grateful for throughout the day. It's fun and bright and rains virtual confetti on you when you remember to post something.

Orange-Carrot-Ginger Juice
This homemade juice has yet to disappoint me. I love it every single day that I manage to make it. 

Orange Tic Tacs
Not only are they orangy, they are minty, and they are low-guilt. Keeping a pack of these (or lime or strawberry) in my purse has saved me a during a couple of extra long meetings this week. Thank you fruit-flavored Tic Tacs, for you rmulti-tasking deliciousness.

This week--during above mentioned long meetings--I had the opportunity to begin the massive task of cleaning up my Outlook Inbox. I have gone from 600 unread emails to 410, and managed to stay steady at 410 for the last few days. Now, I should assure you that NONE of those unread emails signify an un-answered question. It just means that I have to delete them, or file them, or follow up on them. The fact that I've maintained the 410 number means I've started to organize them as I receive them--something I've meant to do all along. So a shout-out to Outlook for keeping them safe for me for so long, another shout-out to Amy for not stressing too much at the number, and a shout-out to Ana for managing to get hers to zero on Friday!

Do you have any favorite thigns this week?  Orange or otherwise?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

[Slice of Life] A Story From the Reading Well

It's Slice of Life time with Two Writing Teachers! A story from the story well...

The first chapter book I ever read by myself, from front cover to back cover, every single page, understanding the whole thing without any help, was The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary.

I remember the day I finished it. I think I was in 2nd or 3rd grade at the time, but on this day I was home and it was daylight out. We were living in what we still call, simply, "The Green House" (As opposed, of course, to the white house, the brown house, the Drayton Harbor house, and the house my parents still live in today--the Harborview House. Good names, yes?). I was in the top bunk of the extra-tall bunk beds my dad had made for us. I don't know where my sister was at the time. I'm sure if she was home I would have been bugging her instead of reading, so she must have been somewhere.

My eyes were tired. I had bifocal glasses (click here for that sad tale), but I always looked over the top of the bifocal part. I had that feeling of having read too long, but I knew the end of the book was close, so I toiled on. As I read I imagined how I would announce my roaring reading success to my family. I would be official.  A reader.  A CHAPTER BOOK reader. I think I spent more time imagining finishing the book than paying attention to the story. In fact, right now I can only tell you that I imagine the mouse rode a motorcycle at the end, but I can't guarantee it.

I remember finishing the final paragraph--with that lovely blank and empty end-of-the-book space after it. I remember shutting the book and starting the climb down the ladder. I'm certain I was calling out my success as I climbed.

And, I hate to be anti-climactic here, but that was the last moment of that day I remember. I remember afterwards and ever since thinking of that book as the first chapter book I ever read by myself, from front cover to back cover, every single page, understanding the whole thing without any help, but I don't remember what happened after I climbed down that extra-tall ladder.

Must have been some party, huh? That's all I can figure.

How about you? Do you remember a reading first of your own?

Monday, April 21, 2014

[Mentor Text Monday] I Heart Wired Magazine

Those of you that talk to me on any kind of a regular basis know about my love for Wired Magazine. I love every issue that comes out, and I thank my engineer friend for getting me a subscription. It's online as well,  but I truly enjoy the hard copy each month. Of course it isn't a perfect magazine (what??? impossible!), but I'm accepting of a periodical's growth areas.

I have narrowed down my Wired love-fest to four Mentor-Text-Monday-worthy reasons: Titles, Academic Language, Whole Text Structure and Text Complexity.


The article titles themselves serve as mentor texts for writing headers, titles, and punctuation for effect. Check out these intriguing titles:

See How Cadbury Hatches 350 Million Goo-Filled Eggs a Year

Are Touch Screens Melting Your Kids Brain?

This Ex-Astronaut is Stalking Asteroids to Save Civilization

How to Make Fake Brains and Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

Academic Language

Wired Magazine does not shy away from academic language. Using a super-cool tool called WordSift (thank you Kenji Hakuta and Greg Wientjes of Stanford University and the SDAWP Fellow that shared this with me), I was able to sift through the text for various kinds of academic lanaguge.

Whole Text Strucutres

There are also some fascinating mentors for whole text structures:

Bird flipbooks made from old clocks and bike parts

A photo study on the earth's relationship with water

Chased by a Zombie
A Physics problem using zombies. Need I say more?

Text Conmplexity

The text in Wired Magazine is of a high level. I took one text--the body of a short article accompanying a graphic--and ran it through some text analyzers. This text, Science Graphic of the Week: 5.3 Million Years of Sea Level Change on One Cliff Face, was especially high. There is a variety, but expect to find texts that push the limits for your students.

So there you have it. four excellent reasons to go online and spend some time reading Wired Magazine articles. You'll learn at leas tone interesting thing, I promise!

Linking up to Mentor Text Monday on SDAWP Voices.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

[Slice of Life] Ashrams and Baseball

It's Slice of Life Tuesday!

It's time!  It's for me to share the #1 person I would follow to an ashram anywhere.  Click here and here to see what the heck I'm talking about.

So, super duper, a-number one, longest standing person I would follow to an ashram anywhere is...

Edgar Martinez--retired designated hitter for the Seattle Mariners

Yup. An interesting departure to be sure. I have great reasons though.

He's nice.
He's genuine.
He signs autographs for crowds of kids--or plays catch with them.
He plays along. 

He thanks his fans and appreciates getting paid.

He is good to his family.He was humble even though he was, arguably, the best designated hitter of his time and since.

During a time of poor role-modeling from professional athletes, Edgar was always above it.

And for this, I would follow him to an ashram. Because he is the model of what I think professional athletes should be. Maybe it doesn't have to be an ashram. Maybe just some bleachers at MLB Spring Training in Peoria. That would be fine.

Your turn!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

[Mentor Text Monday] Shhhhh....

Last week I visited our newly-built San Diego Public Library. I had been once before, but hadn't gotten to wander around. My favorite places are the main elevator, the blue chairs in the reading room, and the 9th floor views:

The elevator--because it is a visual shindig:

The blue furniture because it looks like a cartoon and I want to sit on a cartoon and read:

The bookstore because they had fabulous books and booky things that I loved:

Like the book I bought that is my new favorite and should be read in that blue sofa.

I am not usually a fan of picture books with "cute " pictures. So often that seems to be the bulk of the content--the act of being cute. I love this book because of the text, and cute-picture lovers will also like the illustrations. As a mentor text, the illustrations definitely add to the content, and for this I can forgive their cuteness.

The story is a list of kinds of quiet. The types of quiet listed have nuance and depth--

First one awake quiet.. Jelly side down quiet... Last one to get picked up from school quiet...Lollipop quiet... Best friends don’t need to talk quiet...Bedtime kiss quiet...”What flashlight?” quiet... Sound asleep quiet....

As a whole, they follow a full day from wake-up to sleepy time. Each type of quiet allows room for a vignette or scene as well. 

Two of my favorites are:

First look at your new haircut quiet


Thinking of a good reason you were drawing on the wall quiet

I could tell a whole story just about those two kinds of quiet.

I like the idea of using this book with the book A Quiet Place by Douglas Wood--even just the first page of the book:

Sometimes a person needs a quiet place.
 A place to rest your ears from
Bells ringing and
whistles shrieking and
grown-ups talking and
engines roaring and
horns blaring and
grown-ups talking and
radios playing and
Well, even grown-ups need a quiet place sometimes.
 But it can be hard to find one.
You have to know where to look.

Separately or together, these books can spring board a conversation, writing time, or an inquiry into nuance and juxtaposition. There are also language structures and word choice in both books that would be great for mentor sentences or phrases--parallelism, repetition for effect, use of the ellipse, run on sentences as a poetic structure--so many possibilities!

In my searching for images of these books I came across this website that provides a moment of quiet for each of us. Warning--there is one adult word used. I still very much enjoyed the site and want to share. If you choose to try a moment of quiet at the Quiet Place Project, maybe you can use it to set the scene for who you will use these titles in your classroom?

The Quiet Place Project

Happy Mentor Text Monday!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

[SOLSC] The Three People I Would Follow to an Ashram

It's SOLSC Tuesday!

photo by Raveesh Vyas on Flickr
Back in the day (okay, last month), I mentioned that Sir Ken Robinson was one of the three people I would follow to an ashram anywhere.  I was asked who the other two might be.

I didn't answer.

And this is why.

There are only two left. All of my blustery statements about following three people to an ashram, are, embarrassingly, only bluster. As I sift through my favorite gurus, I can think of a mighty series of folks with whom I'd enjoy a picnic, endure a day-long car ride, or even attend a yoga retreat.
Katie Wood Ray... Jeff Anderson... Kelley Gallagher... Eddie Izzard... Terry Pratchett... Sharon Creech... Lucy Calkins.

I can also remember that when I was a wee gal, I wanted to be Abe Lincoln when I grew up. I had some serious hero worship there and parent that encouraged all dreams of the future--even nigh impossible ones such as becoming the 16th President of the United States.

But follow? To an ashram?  That's serious business. There used to be three, but one has fallen a step. I'd have tea with him, certainly, but no more following for that guy.

This leaves me with TWO people I would follow to an ashram. Not the same ring to it, but I'll take it for now.

You already know of the aforementioned Sir Ken Robinson. When he speaks, I listen. Lots of people do. He makes sense and he's funny. Ashram, here we come.

The second is rather obscure (surprised?), but a long-standing hero of mine. The second person I would follow to an ashram anywhere is...

Monday, April 7, 2014

[An Abecedary of Cape-Wearing] E is for Evil (the fighting of)

powered by Fotopedia

Wait a minute?
What? Evil?


At the heart of all cape-wearers is the passion for protecting someone or something from a perceived evil. It is true, I prefer to not grant these perceived evils airtime on Wear the Cape. While I am not a... (what's that bird with the head in the sand?  Stork? Pigeon? Flamingo? Ostrich?) an ostrich, I do know about the evils and feel the need to know them well, to understand them, to see all sides of them, I don't give them airtime here. They get their own airtime. Their supporters can see to that responsibility. I don't need to help them out with that.

Sometimes, though, I like to remind myself why I am I here. Why the cape-wearers do what we do. We are defending our most precious resource--learners. We are protecting them, their growth, and their rights as learners. We teach them to wield the powers of knowledge, skill, effort, creativity and resilience with grace and integrity. We work within a system that includes challenges, villains, and evils. We understand the reality of that and choose to do the work anyway. We see the challenges, we strive to understand them, but we do not waste our time in bemoaning them, engaging them in fruitless conversation, succumbing to them. We continue to do our work, to strengthen our resolve, and to improve at each opportunity.

That is what cape-wearers do. Are you a cape-wearer? What cape-wearing have you done lately?

Friday, April 4, 2014

[R@ndom] New Favorite Things Friday #4

My current New Favorite Things are:

Ruffles and Crochet Creatures
They make me happy to sew. It's nice to have things to do or make that are simple and doable. It helps me spend time on things that are less simple and less doable. This blog of crochet creatures is crazy fun: Kim Lapsley Crochets. I'm also glad to share my ruffle-making trick if you have a need.

While my body is furious at me for not taking better care of it, yoga really is like a massage for your insides and for your soul. More yoga more of the time.

I'm learning it and I'm liking what it helps me do. Learning is a strong word, but I now know three things and before I knew one. I don't know what this translates to, but it does mean I end a line and start a new one:

Seed Books
Dandelions Tale by Kevin Sheehan and Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman and Judy Pedersen
There's a teachable moment in here somewhere, I'm just not sure where yet. 

Planning for Next Year
It feels refreshing to look ahead in a planful way. To be a step ahead, at least for now. I highly recommend it.

What is your New Favorite Thing?