Showing posts from April, 2012

It’s Monday – April 30th!

Wow, did we really hit the end of the month already? How exactly does time fly by so quickly? Once again, I feel like I didn’t get as much read as I would like. But I’m thankful for my car ride and the audio books that I never thought I would like. Check out the other posters - hosted by Teach Mentor Texts!   Newbery: (audio & April ReRead) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. This book is absolutely amazing. I’ve read it twice, and this time I listened to it. If you haven’t read anything by Gaiman, you absolutely must try this one. Yes, it’s creepy. The story is set in a graveyard, and it begins with grisly murders (Though they aren’t described too gruesomely). What transpires, though, is a story about family, growing up, and finding where you belong. As an added bonus, Neil’s voice makes this audio something special. (April ReRead) The Hero and the Crown – by Robin McKinley. This is a beautiful fantasy novel. If you love Graceling , but are afraid to hand

Perpetual Motion - Poem for April 29

(I'm behind on the prompts - still need to go back to prompt 27 and 28 - but this one jumped out at me so I grabbed the thought and ran with it.)  Perpetual Motion Pushing and shoving Children vie for the Front Of the line Heads tilted back in awe Gazing up,                 And up                                 And up. Safe adventures await Zooming to the Apex, Descending Repeating the Journey over,                 And over,                                            And over. My adult self is bemused Seeing my life in the Wheel.

Cluttered Minds - Poem 26

The prompt was a disaster of a hoarder scene. I chose to look at that scene and see my own mind. Yes, that's a bit disturbing... and a little bit cool. Thanks again to Bud the Teacher for the prompt !  “Cluttered minds” Some minds are Antique shops, or Junk yards. Cramming Thoughts and Memories Willy nilly into Every neuron and synapse Mathematical passions Flights of Fancy Conversations overheard Wisps of dreams remembered Colliding, Crashing, Creating. In the incubator that is a Cluttered mind

Unconventional - Poem 25

Another poem in response to a visual prompt from Bud the Teacher . Check it out!  "Unconventional"  Never one to bow To the conventional She insisted on stark Contrast. All her friends drove Modern marvels, fully Equipped with every convenience. Economical at the pump. She? Not she. Her conveyance Was of historical value Barely legal for her daily Commute A sturdy block of metal Blacker than sin, with An 8 track player and Rear fins.

Why Sci Fi? - The Power of What If?

      The Power of “What if?” Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can. ~ Terry Pratchett Our world is a rapidly changing place. Many studies show that our children need to be creative thinkers to survive the onslaught of all the newness. They will need to be able to problem solve and create solutions for problems that we don’t even know exist yet. Science fiction and fantasy authors have been asking these questions since the start. The stories they tell are the perfect way to get kids to start thinking about creative solutions, even if the problems faced in the story are so outlandish (to us) that they may never happen. Engaging children in the conversations is a great way to train them into this kind of thinking. Try one of these and watch the minds in your classroom explode with possibilities. What if robots continue to get smarter and smarter ? This concept becomes less and less science ficti

Stuff and Nonsense - Poem 24

Another poem based on the fun prompts from Bud the Teacher's site. This one was especially silly.  "Stuff and Nonsense" Come along with me, my friends, and We shall sup a cup of tea Tea is the drink of choice, You see, when We discuss frivolity Poppycock and balderdash With a heaping side Of blue who hash When your cup of tea is done Declare, “clean cup!” and Move down one. May stuff and nonsense fill your day There really is no better way. Or so the young ones seem to say, So settle in all day and play.

Real Writing?

  Welcome back to the weekly Slice of Life! Now that I proved my tenacity at writing every day in the month of March, I come back each Tuesday to share my thoughts with the wonderful writers hosted by Two Writing Teachers .  (before I get started, I'd like to update you all on the poem I shared as part of the March slice. Remember all the angst and belly aching over choosing a title? I finally settled on "First Frost" - as I was trying to reflect that moment in time when autumn turns to winter. Also, my poem was selected to be one of 8 teacher poems collected into a small publication for the PA writing and literature project. I'm going to pretend there were more than 8 teachers who entered their poems.) Real Writing? I just had the unmitigated joy of proctoring four days worth of state writing assessments for my fifth graders. They were troopers; staying focused on the task to the best of their ability. They created graphic organizers on their scratch paper,

Poetry snippets - April 23

I have to admit, I struggled with today's prompt from Bud the Teacher . It is a beautiful image of a cloudy day on the beach, with beautiful sun breaking through the clouds. Two women huddle under an umbrella - which gives a splash of color to the scene. Yet I couldn't "settle" into a poem for it. Instead, I got two bits.  1) A snippet of a poem about friendship. Not really satisfying, as it came to me with some rhyme and I just don't know where to go with it.  "Friendship" Splash of color in a dingy day. Flash of a smile to light the way Celebrating when things go well Commiserating when it goes to hell 2) A h aiku about the setting.  Heavy clouds linger Scattered golden rays announce Sweet sunshine’s return Ah well, can't win 'em all, right? I liked yesterday's poem much better. 

It's Monday, What are you reading - April 23rd

It’s Monday, what are you reading? Check out Teach Mentor Texts for other great books to add to your TBR list. Umm… I have a confession to make. I hardly finished any books this week. I’m in the middle of a few, but I really only crossed the finish line on some short ones… Picture Books: Owl Moon by Jane Yolen– as part of my ReReading in April quest (and my desire to immerse myself in the glorious writing of a master craftsman), I read this lovely Caldecott winner. There’s a reason it’s a time honored classic in elementary schools. Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown.  This was ADORABLE! If you are (or know) a Star Wars fan, this is the perfect gift. It’s a sweet and funny look at Darth as a good dad with Luke. Geeky inside jokes run rampant. I read it several times, so I’m counting it for the ReRead as well! Graphic Novels Giants Beware ! By Jorge Aguirre  Wonderful, wonderful! Girls and boys will love this tale. Adventurous, amusing, and with a f

Night - Poem 22

Night Sometimes night falls Before the Journey’s end Risking all we Venture on Through the darkness With only the promise Of dawn.

Siblings - Poem 21

Again, a poem inspired by the ongoing visual prompts from Bud the Teacher's blog . Come celebrate poetry month with us!  Siblings On any ordinary day There is pushing and shoving, Whining and grousing. Tempers flare and sometimes Fists fly. Today, a wide grin Replaces the surly stare. He gazes raptly at His older brother. Shouting, cheering, Reveling in each Small victory. Proudly he turns to the Crowd. Puffing up his chest he Declares “That’s my brother!”

If life is a song... Poem 20

Today's poem was inspired by the visual prompt on Bud the Teacher's blog of a woman belting out a song on stage. I was inspired, though, to write about another member of the band...  If life is a song Some are the drums Steady and stalwart Keeping the beat Pounding and raucous Or softly insistent                 Keeping the beat Never faltering Never wavering                 Keeping the beat Then the spotlight shifts, And it is solo time. Even the stalwart, The steady, The softly insistent Will shine.

Another Swing of the Pendulum - Poem 19

Another wonderful visual prompt from Bud the Teacher's blog . This one was an empty meeting room with a filled chalk board. After yet another week of state testing, though, I was feeling a bit jaded today.  Empty room - Empty words deface the board Decisions made by those With no real understanding of the Day to day existence of those Living in the trenches They smiled Pontificated Swaggered and strutted Buzz words swarming New directives New incentives New penalties Created Another swing Tick Tock of the pendulum Tick Tock But who will really pay?

Graceling by Cashore - The End!

"Batty About Books" discusses  Graceling   by Kristin Cashore -  the final chapters.  – As with our previous posts, my blog is hosting my initial thoughts with Kathy’s responses (aka @thebrainlair). Her blog - The Brain Lair -  will host her initial thoughts with my responses. This is our last Graceling post, and then we’ll move on to A World Without Heroes ! If you haven’t read the book – this is your formal SPOILER ALERT! Maria: I can’t believe it’s the end! I feel like the ending was one big rush (not in a bad way) and that I didn’t write down nearly as many thoughts and ponderings as I did in the first three sections. Kathy: Same here.  Even after I went back to reread, I didn’t have much to write down. Maria: Okay, so I did have some thoughts. I’m not one to hold back on my observations and opinions, right? Kathy: Ha! Maria: I love the loyalty that Katsa inspires. When she arrives in the town and ask that storekeeper for help, there is no doubt that the

Summer Love, Long Ago. Poem 18

Dear summer love, from so long ago. Our time was brief,                 So very brief We talked laughed,        held hands. Just a few days, really A few conversations A handful of kisses Your view of me as mature,                 interesting,                             attractive. Changed me forever When you disappeared, I never got to thank you. I hope you found love;                 Contentment;                                 And laughter As I have.

Come Sail Away - Poem 17

(Again, my daily prompt comes from Bud the Teacher's site. Check out his prompts and all the other wonderful poems!)  Come Sail Away “There is no frigate like a book” – Emily Dickinson Come along with me To realms of imagination We’ll sail across the sky To Neverland and never grow old Or discover Ghulheim beneath a grave and cry out To the Night-gaunts for rescue. Open a wardrobe door, Barge onto Platform 9 and three quarters, Fall into a rabbit hole. Weave a world of magic with Wands Or words Or dance Or love. Quest, seek, struggle, and grow. Without leaving The comforts of home, And tea, in your cozy Hobbit hole

Sensitive Sons

It's "Slice of Life" day. I posted a piece of writing every day in March - and over the rest of the year we try to post every Tuesday. Just a quick little reflection on the nature of sensitive sons. Yes, we all claim we want to have boys who are more in touch in with their emotions, right? Well, some days I'm less sure of that than others. I am the proud owner ... er.. mother of two highly sensitive boys. The oldest is 10, but has become incredibly moody (does puberty really start this early?). The other is 8, and is a button pusher. You know - the kind of child who can always find those buttons that make other people crazy? Ah, perhaps you are seeing the problem now, yes? The older son has REALLY easy to find buttons right now, and I get the brunt of the crazy. Then we have the added joy of the change of the seasons, and the nearing of the end of the school year. Why are those two things problems for my sensitive sons, you ask? Season changes mean clothing

Goofy Giggles - Poem 16

I decided to go for a rhyming poem today. My sons helped, both because these are all things they do and they actually gave me some ideas as I worked on it today! Thanks again to Bud the Teacher for a fun prompt for Poetry Month! Goofy Giggles Get a case of goofy giggles Sing a song of cheese Fingers dance as happy llama Then whistle, if you please Call every item in your desk No other name than Bob Fling your clothes across the floor And be a big old slob. That is how to be a kid - At least it is today. Perhaps in several hundred years There will be a better way.

It’s Monday, What are you reading? April 16th

Time for my weekly update!  Newbery (audio) Miracles on Maple Hill – I’ll reflect on this one fully in a Newbery update post. Suffice it to say that I’ve enjoyed it, but it really drove home the way our culture has changed over the years. The gender roles are so old fashioned! There are times when the little girl who is the main character says things like “I’m so glad I’m not a boy. Boys can’t say stupid things.” The descriptions of nature in the text are lovely, though, and it has me curious about herbs and plants again. Batty About Books (my book club with Kathy – aka @thebrainlair ) Graceling – by Kristin Cashore. I finished this one up this week. I loved it! You can check out my discussion with my book buddy on my blog. We’ll be discussing the ending this week. A World Without Heroes – by Brandon Mull. I’m just starting this one up, as Kathy and I chose it as our next discussion book. Read Alouds with my Sons (a “reread” for April) Win

Should - Poem 15

Today's poem was sparked by the image of veggies accompanied by the words, " Go on.  It’s good for you.  What else would be good for you to be doing right now?" Check out Bud the Teacher's site daily in April for a prompt to try.  Should The weight of the shoulds Rests on my shoulders, Bending me over like Atlas himself. Some shoulds I roll up The hill, only to sigh Helplessly as they roll Back down, and I begin Again. Some shoulds sit glaring at me From corners, shelves, and Alcoves. Dusty, cobwebbed, and covered with grime. I refuse to live ruled By the shoulds. Yet dutifully I sharpen a pencil And begin the day’s list.

Newbery Update April 15th

It's time for another Newbery Challenge Update! Check out Watch.Connect.Read for a description of this challenge. I’m focusing on two types of Newbery books in April – rereads (part of my effort to join in with the Teacher Mentor Text “A-Okay toReread in April” ) and audio books. I’ll be back on track with the earlier Newbery books in May. I left off at 1934. The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman  (1996)      I love this book every time I read it. It's a quick and easy read, but with a lot of historical information. Not for the faint of heart - or the very young - as there is a decent amount of (not too gory) childbirth information in there!      I'm fascinated by the middle ages and by herblore, so I just love this one! It’s a “starter” historical fiction, without a ton of heavy historical data, but I think it will hook readers into wanting to learn more about the time. Miracles on Maple Hill  by Virginia Sorensen (1957) (I listened to

Nourishment - Poem 14

Today's poem, in honor of poetry month, was inspired by the image of a happy child in the rain on Bud the Teacher's blog.  Nourishment “Into every life a little rain must fall” Declared with a dour expression By those who have forgotten Simpler days Stomping – this way and that – Which gives the biggest splash? Squishy galoshes Head tilted back to catch A drop on my tongue Dance in the drizzle Prance in the puddles Caper in the cloudburst Questing for rainbows? No! Reveling in the raindrops Secure in the knowledge Of tomato soup and Gooey grilled cheese To drive away the chills

A-Okay to Reread in April – April 14, 2012

A-Okay to Reread in April – April 14, 2012 Ooo... I am loving this! Check out the “A-Okay to Reread in April” challenge at Teach Mentor Texts . This post started its life as a comment on second posting by Jen Vincent about her reading progress on this challenge. It was so long I decided to make it my very own post. My blog was feeling lonely. *** So far I have reread Wind in the Door (I read it with my son, who is now obsessed with the Murry clan). I still adore how L'Engle blends some serious science into her science fiction, even though it is for kids. I also love the depth of her thoughts. In this book, Names are given incredible power - and knowing and understanding someone (faults and all) is the highest treasure. Love it! I also reread Midwife's Apprentice . I'm using this April reread challenge to hit some of the Newberys I've already read, and counting it into my Newbery challenge. I've finished 19 of the 91 Newberys so far this year. Not ba

Discovery - Poem 13

(This poem is the 13th of my April poems, all inspired by the visual prompts on Bud the Teacher's blog . Today's image was a black and white photo of a man and woman in a chemistry lab.)  Discovery It begins with a wondering. An itchy, scratchy feeling in the Back of a brain “Why? How? What if?” Sometimes there are Sudden Bursts of inspiration Mythical apples Overflowing tubs “Eureka!” Sometimes the progress is slow and painful and comes in fits and starts, along with countless failures that could make the bravest soul descend into despair. Yet we soldier on into the Unknown. Women and men, Young and old, Boldly creating the future. Uncovering the past Answering each “Why? How? What if?” One little speck at a time.

Obsolete - Poem 12

Today's poem was inspired by an image of a slide rule on Bud the Teacher's blog . He's posting a visual prompt every day in honor of Poetry Month.  Obsolete Giggles and whispers Creeping up the attic stairs Garbed in gingham and lace Creaks and echoes Lifting the heavy oak lid Intricately carved old chest Nudges and pokes “What are those things?” Dusty and covered with grime One girl holds up a small rectangle Gleaming silver back with a Shiny black front The other gestures quickly, Wiggling fingers with a single word “Identify” Resonant voice responds, “Information device – Obsolete”