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Friday, April 30, 2010

The End

Little second grade talkative peep was avoiding taking a hideous reading test on a handheld wireless device. His stories were actually pretty interesting so that was part of the problem.
After I reminded him for the 5th time to get started reading he launched into a heartfelt tale of woe. "My dog died and that made me really sad. My dog died in the car. He did. He died in the car. My dog died in the car."
I feared suffocation or heat stroke, and I timidly asked, "Were the windows up?"
"No," he told me. "She was already sick in the house. It was her time to die. But my mom got her in the car to rush her super fast to the vet and she was so nervous my mom went the wrong way."
"So your dog died on the way to the vet?"
"No! She died on the opposite way to the vet."
I tried not to laugh, and mumbled out a sincere apology for his loss.
"It's okay," said Drew. "It was my dog's time to die."

It seemed fitting that in the midst of all this week's literacy testing I got to hear a great story that involved love, pain, and nuttiness.

And it's time for the end of the April literacy blogging challenge. I loved all of it. Let's do it again sometime, THANKS SO MUCH, KC, Dan, Shef, Dobby, John, Gina, Shannon, Mary, Rosalyn! AND THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO READ THE BLOGS AND EVEN COMMENTED. WAY TO SUPPORT! Let's bring on those May flowers.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Lunch

Lots of literacy at lunch today. Kiddos wanted to read their poems to me and to each other. The adults wanted me to listen to their poems too and they wanted to tell me the story behind picking said poems. There was a temporary crisis when we found a poem on the ground that seemed to have been written by a sixth grader---- I hate my life and I'm going to use this knife is how it began. A teacher was harping at me, "Look what's happened because of this poem in your pocket thing! Look what I have to deal with now."
I calmly answered, "Well, I think we're learning that Poem In Your Pocket Day has a darker side. A darker side that we have to accept."
Everyone calmed down after my calming words and we went back to celebrating and appreciating the kind of literacy we call poetry.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Roses

Feeling restless because of the downerity of the former post. Sure standardized testing sucks for kids and is damaging our educational system but is that any reason to trash literacy? Standardized testing does indeed represent how literacy can be used to oppress some and privilege others, but mostly literacy is good. And just remember when your kid or some other person's kid comes home with their super high test scores and everyone wants to do a little jig because of how fantastic it is to have high test scores, just remember that standardized tests are hideous distortions of what learning is all about. That's all I'm trying to say here.
And finally I have my poem. I've had about 10 in mind, but then I remembered that last time i took out my Audubon book to identify some birds, I noticed TD had left a stash of little bits of cut up papers with poems on them. I found several in her stash that would be good but I think I'll go with this one.
Thanks, TD. Please come home soon.

The Testing

We're having standardized testing this week. I had to give the Language Arts section to 5 fourth graders today. Peeps with some learning difficulties. It was a drag for all of us. One kiddo got so mad at me. He kept mumbling and grouching at me as I tried to help him read the inscrutable passages. "I don't know how to read this and I've told you that!" He knew there was no point in him taking that test and he did NOT want to fill in bubbles to questions he could neither read nor answer. But that's what I encouraged him to do. I hated myself for that. Literacy sucks sometimes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Bugs

Karla Kuskin is probably my favorite writer of poetry for kiddos. Today I brought her bug poem in to the kinders....

I am very fond
of bugs
I kiss them
and I give them hugs.

I gave the kiddos a template to write their own Kuskin style poems. Got some great ones.

I am very fond
of hats.
I wear them
and I give them pats.

I am very fond
of snakes
I kiss them
and I give them cakes.

I am very fond
of roses
I smell them
and I give them water
and seeds.

Okay, that last one is kind of weird, but kind of nice too.
2 more days to PiYP Day. The kinders are pumped.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Law

Today I read .5 of Molly Bannaky to some third grade peeps. This perhaps truthful story about the grandmother of Benjamin Banneker begins with Molly the milkmaid spilling some milk on the job. The year's 1680 and she's charged with theft. Good news. Molly can read and the law says that she can not be executed because she can read THE BIBLE. By law, the court must provide her with THE BIBLE to prove her literacy. Literacy allows her to escape the gallows, but she's sent off to the colonies for 7 years of indentured servitude. It's like I told the thirdies today, literacy isn't a ticket to some rainbow land in the clouds where everyone has a big house and a heated swimming pool. But illiteracy is frequently a ticket to some pretty tough times.
And that's why this literacy blogging challenge is so important. So today's literacy blogging honors the literacy of Molly Bannaky and the famous grandkid she allegedly taught to read, Benjamin Banneker.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Law

Every year schools have to update a document called the Public Law 221 Plan. A new plan is written every 3 years, but each year the document has to be revised. Today I read over our PL221 with BossLady and I think we're getting close to submitting it. After our work together I found her a good poem for PiYP Day called "If I Were the Principal." Now I'm sitting next to the NYT and yes, I'm going to start the reading ritual. Sadly, Husbandman is in Italy, so he won't be able to complete the puzzle with me. Sorry Husbandman. Too bad, so sad. You're just going to have to deal with it. Just be in Italy, why don't you?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Storm

NYT has an interesting piece about this company called Imagine that runs charter schools. There have been some questions into their use of state $. If you're starting a charter school, you should probably avoid this company. I don't have much confidence in the way they're doing things.
Tonight I ate popcorn for dinner and read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo all evening. We're having a stormy day here and I don't mind it one bit.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Weekend

Literacy wasn't a big focus today. Math curriculum mapping took up the entire day. I handed out a copy of this poem to celebrate our math map enterprise. I was a little nervous to pass out the poem but I think the colleagues appreciated it. They didn't say anything. Just stared blankly, or smirked a little, but I think deep down inside they were genuinely touched.
Now I'm relaxing as I always do on Friday evenings. I've read a few blogs and I read a news article about Pronto's trial. Now I'm watching Glee. Jane Lynch is making me laugh.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The School

I don't like the picture being under my words. AT ALL! But that's how it's going to be this time. I hate it, but I have to move on. I have to blog and watch the PR Finale, so that's going to take some focus. Okay, let's see..... literacy. I was with some second grade peeps today that were writing about our new school. Everyone's writing about how great the new school's going to be. The 2nd gr. peeps kept writing about how they were going to join the football team or the basketball team or be a cheerleader! I couldn't really understand how they got these notions because we won't have any of these things at our new school, but we all know how rumors get started. It can often be through literacy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Poem

I've been sending links out about Poem In Your Pocket Day to the colleagues at the compound for a couple of weeks now. Time will only tell if we'll see any peeps pocketing poems on the 29th, but I'm starting to get an inkling that there's interest. Today our awesome assistant stopped me as I was rushing by and she was reading a computer screen. Lately people have been stopping me left and right as I try to do all my extremely important work. It can be frustrating. Today when she stopped me, I thought OMG I can't stop and talk right now. Instead I smiled and said, "What's up?"
"Some of these poems you sent in the last email are great."
"I read a few of them. Some were pretty funny."
She looked up and said, "This one's not funny, but it's wonderful."
In my mind I was thinking, "Pleasedon'treadapoempleasedon'treadapoempleasedon'treadapoem."
She started reading a poem to me and it was about a kid missing his brother who is in the army in Iraq. This assistant's son was in Iraq for a few years, but now he's home. As she read this poem about missing a soldier, she started crying and then I started crying. Then we both laughed and busied ourselves back to work.

Poem In Your Pocket Day is probably going to rock. Still haven't found my poem tho.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Podcast

Well, I'll tell you what? Some literacy partners asked me to give them a little run through on how to make a podcast using garage band. So I made a podcast for our school about literacy at our school. I sound like a total dork in this podcast, but I'm willing to make sacrifices for literacy. That's how important literacy is to me. You can hear me sound like a dork right here if you want to.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Actor

I was trying to sneak down the hall to my hovel this morning when I heard a brouhaha in a classroom where I knew a poor substitute teacher was being subjected to a unique kind of hell that only substitute teachers can know. I tried to slink by, but, as a former substitute teacher, I couldn't stand the guilt I was feeling so I ventured in with the rowdy little punkies and attempted to assist. I ended up reading a version of Goldilocks to this group and if I do say so myself, my little bear voice is pretty good---an annoying whine. After lunch I read with my third grade peep about Denali National Park in Alaska. At the end of the day, I read Horace and Morris, but mostly Delores to some K's during their free choice time.
This evening was the highlight of my literacy pleasure. I heard Martin Sheen speak on campus. We sat very close to the actor/activist and he was a charming and inspiring story teller. He recited poems by Tagore and Emma Lazarus and chatted about social activism, his love of acting, his alcoholism, his son, his faith. At the end the host gave him a Hoosier T-shirt and Mr. Sheen put it on. He looked great.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Review

Let's get this literacy blogging out of the way early so I can be a productive member of society for the rest of the day. Husbandman has been making some negative comments about me lately, in terms of TSOL (time spent on line). I think I straightened him out this morning by reminding him, "Less critique. More compliments. Follow that rule and we'll both have a great day."
Here's what I got. I'm nearly done with my NYT reading and the review of a new book about Jane Austen will most likely result in a book purchase by the end of the today. (If I remember). I love Jane Austen's novels, but I've never been a Janeite. I know nothing about her. Maybe it's time to read a biography. The review makes this book sound perfect for me. It's not "aimed at specialists" and is basically "a repackaging of existing academic research."
"Harman's book doesn't contain much about Austen that hasn't been covered elsewhere, but it presents the story of Austen's self-fashioning and later popularity in a convincing, enjoyable way."
Count me in.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Girl

After a lovely breakfast with some pals, I spent the day on the blue couch. Napping and reading. I read quite a few blogs. And I am also now reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And I read some NYT articles today too. It's pretty good to have lots of stuff to chat about on the literacy blogging challenge. For a literacy day, this day scores a 10.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Aggravation

I'm in a flipping bad mood right now. I left my laptop in the car that Husbandman took to go play POOL! FLIP! Now I can't download my good fotos and I can't sit in bed reading blogs all evening. Damn it. Whatever. What did I read today? I read a book about ocean mammals with a 3rd grader. Then I read an idiotic book called At the Park with a Kinder who reads like a champ even tho he has a really odd speech impediment. On the good side, I did meet Alexander Bernstein today and he's a very pleasant person. The Artful Learning School model will be good for us next year.
Now, here at home, I'm reading Girl with Dragon Tattoo, but here's the thing. I'm just in the first 40 pages and I don't care a whit about financial fraud that involves corporations and
investors. I wish my education had prepared me better to read this kind of stuff but I can't look to the past. I've got to keep moving forward. Not sure if I'll be moving forward with this book, though. I'll keep youposted.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Bloomers

I read Leo the Late Bloomer to the kinders today. I started off by telling them the story of how everyone in my family learned how to ride their bikes before I did. Then I read the book and then we put together construction paper flowers and wrote a little bit about our personal blooming. The kinders are wild little feral cats, but whenever I leave they have to run over for hugs, so I just have to love them.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Point

I read a power point about my field trip to the Illinois artful learning school to a bunch of classes today. 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The kiddos seemed pretty excited about artful learning. I hope I get to meet the maestro's son on Friday when he visits.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Maestro

The compound's going to be called a Leonard Bernstein ARTFUL LEARNING compound next year. I was pronouncing the maestro's name incorrectly, but I've learned if you just remember "Leonard Beer Stein," you'll do okay. Tomorrow I'm going to go into some classrooms to show kids a power point about Artful Learning because Leonard's son Alexander is going to visit us on Friday and we want all the peeps to know who he is and why he's visiting. Our local glossy magazine has the maestro on the cover this month because he spent a lot of time in our little town. I thought I'd weave some of the article into the power point. Here are some of the quotes that probably won't go into the power point.

"...when Mr. Bernstein showed up, the liquor flowed more freely than it normally did..."
"he behave(d) with impropriety, especially at parties where he often outlasted his welcome."
He "was charming, if a little inebriated."

The maestro's going to fit right in at the compound, where people like to work hard and play hard. Mostly play hard. He'll inspire us all.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Review

Fairly pleased with myself today. Left work at 4:30 and shopped at Target, took a walk, picked up sticks in the backyard, chatted on the phone long distance with oldest friend, listened to Basil Rathbone read The Raven, and then found time to read a book review in the NYT, paper of record. I will now review the book review, by Garry Wills, of The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama by David Remnick. At first I thought it would be neat to write a "found poem" of words and phrases from the review that resonated somehow with me. And that would be a neat idea, but I'm not going to do that. I'll just focus on a few interesting comments. The reviewer does a good job of comparing bits from Barack's autobiography with contrasting pieces from Remnick's bio. Okay, I'm just going to focus on one interesting comment. The book sounds good. I may read it, but I'm not positive.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Book

I woke up and finished The Hunger Games first thing. I loved that book. The ending was a "to be continued" kind of ending, but that didn't even bother me that much. If you haven't read Hunger Games, you should.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is the chosen read for our town's One Book One Bloomington program. I got to about p. 135 and then stopped because it was boring me. But there's an article in today's rag about how great it is. Maybe I should give it another try? But it's overdue, so that could be complicated. Plus, I gave it a good amount of my time already. I'll decide about this later.

This afternoon I headed over to a daffodil exhibit. It was a in a small room at the local garden center. Some tables were set up with vases of daffs in them. There are a LOT of different kinds of daffodils. I was feeling pretty pleased with this little field trip of mine, but then I got home and my brother in law posted a picture on facebook of his trip to a tulip festival. His photos showed tulips going every which way for about a bazillion miles. That would be a great thing to see.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Book

Woohoo, I'm blogging about an actual book! Don't know why blogging about a book should seem better than any of the other texts I've blogged about (schedules, power points or news articles), but I do have some pride about nearly finishing a book. (Maybe I'll blog later about how literacy can be kind of snooty sometimes).
Anyway, I wanted to finish Hunger Games today so I could blog the accomplishment this very day, but I still have about 60 pages. Hunger Games. I wouldn't really call it a Young Adult novel because I know elems that would like it. I know a lot of grown people who would like it as well. I will probably make a podcast about it as soon as I finish it. For now, I'll post some questions I am having about the ending and then maybe I'll podcast the answers.
1. Will Katniss win the game? 2. Will Peeta live? 3. Will something happen to change the ruling class society? 4. What will happen to Gale?
Those are my major questions right now. I thank JW and GPM for recommending this book.

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Schedule

The clipboard with the schedule on it was carried for hours today. It was written upon and
chatted about and retyped. It spent the whole day with me. I read and discussed it dozens of times. With dozens of people. My "to do" list grew longer and longer as each hour passed and I spent time on the schedule but on nothing else. I think in the end most people liked it. It's hard to make everyone happy about a schedule, but that's what I try to do.

When I got home this evening I was pleased to see that our new netflix flix had arrived. As you undoubtedly know, I just got netflix very recently. I picked up the red envelope and ripped it in half to get at the dvd. That's when I remembered that the red envelope is the container for returning the dvd and that ripping it in half could be called an error. Husbandman was not supportive when I showed him what I had done. When I told him I felt badly about destroying the netflix envelope, he basically said, "Yeah, that's a big problem. Why'd you do that?"

Why can't people support me? Is that asking so much?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Topic

Today was the big presentation. It went fine. Sadly 3 of my
most fantastic slides didn't save so they were blank. "Drat," I said, with good humor as
I tried to explain the content of the missing slides to all the principals and the superintendent.
It's still bugging me, so many hours later. When I got back to the compound, a second grader asked me to listen to her read, so we went out to the hallway while she read Frindle. Frindle is a truly great book about a group of kids who invent the word frindle, but their teacher doesn't want them to say the word, so it gets more and more popular. Probably all of you know about this book already, and I only read 4 pages of Frindle today, but that's all I've got, basically. I wish I could have read the 3 missing slides, but it just didn't work out.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Site

National Poetry Month is a pretty good month. And this blogger here has a cool thing going where he shares an UNPUBLISHED poem by a PUBLISHED poet each day. It's v. delightful and today's poem is lovely.
I just got home from work. I've been working on a power point about RtI for 2 days straight. It is done. I hope the presentation goes well tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Praise


Literacy stories have not been a big part of my day. Mostly I've been working on a power point because we have to give a chat to some principals this week about our school's RtI program. I'm nowhere near done with it.
I was getting a bit nervous about not blogging today when I remembered a third grader saying to me, "My teacher read that paper that had your name and we liked it."
So I gave her a hug and moved on when later an adult came up to me and said, "How's it feel to be a master teacher, huh???"
"Well, I guess pretty good," I responded, unsure. That's when she told me that a teacher pal had referred to me in a news article (See link below). So after dinner I decided to find the article. I read it and was so pleased to read a nice compliment about me. I called Husbandman over to read the compliment portion of the article. "This is what I'm going to blog about!" I announced cheerfully."
"You're going to blog about an article in which someone praises you?"
"Absolutely I am," I answered.
"Where's the shame?" he asked, which makes no sense at all to me.
IDSnews.com | Bird nesting site in jeopardy

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Gift

I just got home from work at 10:15 pm. I sure am glad teachers have such awesome hours. I worked 6 hours at the compound yesterday, which was Sunday btw. Yep, teachers have a way cushy job!

Okay, time to get focused here.
I've been reading my computer screen for the past 5 hours, but I did have a fine reading experience today, which I shall now tell you about thusly. I read Granddaddy's Gift to the third grade podcasting group. You're thinking, "Hey tell us more." Okay I will. It's about a guy who wants to register to vote in Mississippi but he has to take a literacy test about the U.S. Constitution in order to register because of his skin color, so he studies and takes the test but when he goes to celebrate with people at his church, his church has been burned down. But the church burning backfires because it gives others the courage to study for the test in order to register to vote. The third grade peeps were enthralled with this book and their teacher said, "We need more books like this, they were captivated." I'm going to try to gather books and texts that have to do with literacy and law.
Butler and Duke are tied, btw.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Birthday

Sunday's a big literacy day around these parts because Husbandman goes out and brings back the NYTimes, the paper of record. We get coffee, curl up on the couch. After a cursory look at the front articles, we work on the crossword puzzle in the magazine. We almost always finish the Sunday puzzle and then we work on the reading. I like to read the magazine first. The q and a page with Deborah Solomon. Love that. Love the piece where people talk about the odds and ends in their house. I love the last page called "lives," because the stories are fairly extreme. I always read the piece about doctors trying to diagnose some odd health problem. I wish my kids would be doctors so that I could advise them when they're diagnosing.
Then I move on to Frank Rich, letters to the editor, and then the vows story. Then I move over to the front section, and then the book review. I usually end with all the blurbs about all the people getting married. My best reading today was from the magazine. Roman Vishniak, photographer, didn't exactly follow the code of journalistic ethics when he photographed Jewish people in Poland before WWII. He made up captions for the photos that were not true. But he was an excellent photographer who left some great pix behind. We can see those pix in 2012. Not sure where. But let's track them down. And let's go see them together. Because we're all in this together.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Otter

Today I started Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. But I'm going to blog about something I read yesterday at the compound. I'm going to blog this as a dramatic sketch because it shows how literacy can be totally full of pathos from time to time.

Characters:
Keith, second grade peep
Leeway, Literacy Partner
Evan, third grader.
Carla, 3rd grader.
Shana and 6 other second graders.

Setting: A school hallway. A literacy partner is sitting on the floor surrounded by second graders. The kiddos are supposed to read and write about sea otters. Keith is having trouble.

Leeway: Keith, did you read this? (holding up a short text about sea otters)
Keith: No. I can't read it.
Leeway: Would you like me to read it to you? Then you can write 3 sentences about sea otters?
Keith remains silent.
Leeway: Why don't I read it to you then? (She reads with gusto and verve). "Sea otters have very thick fur. Sea otters live in cold water. Their fur helps keep them warm. Sea otters use their paws to clean their fur. Sea otters use their paws to get sticks and dirt out of their fur." So, what did you learn about sea otters, Keith?
Keith: (Shrugs) Nothing.
Leeway: Nothing? Nothing about their thick fur or how they use their paws to keep clean?
Keith: I don't know.
Leeway: Want me to read it again? Listen carefully this time and try to remember one thing about sea otters that you can write about.
Leeway reads the text again, with gusto and verve. As she finishes, she holds it up to Keith.
Leeway: Look at this cool picture of this sea otter cleaning its fur. What do you think you should write, Keith?
Keith: Nothing.
Leeway: Why don't we talk to your friends here to see what they're writing---
Evan, a third grader bursts out of the boy's bathroom.
Evan: (Very animated) There's poop on the floor in here. And in the urinal!
Leeway: Just go downstairs and explain this to Mr. D., Evan. Go quickly and don't interrupt the second graders. Everyone's doing a great job writing about sea otters.
Evan runs down the hall.
Leeway: Okay, Where were we? Shana, What are you writing about?
Carla, another third grader walks by, on her way back from the library.
Keith: Hey Carla! There's poop in the boy's bathroom. It's on the floor and in the urinal.
Carla: Gross. (Keeps walking).
Leeway: (silent for a few seconds, staring at Keith) Wow! Keith! You remembered a lot about the POOP! That was amazing! You remembered 2 details! You remembered that there was poop on the floor and in the urinal! You did such a great job talking about the poop, but when we talked about sea otters (leeway holds up the sea otter text), you didn't remember even one thing. That's really something how you can remember everything about the POOP, but not even one thing about the SEA OTTER!
Shana: Can you please stop saying "poop" so much?
Leeway: Maybe I can. What do you say Keith? Do you think you can get to work now and write something about the sea otter?
Keith picks up his pencil and starts writing, just as the hallway fills with second and third graders rushing out to recess.

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Taser

Wow! This blogging challenge has started off with a bang. I love this blogging challenge very much so far.
I learned in our local rag that police officers tasered a 10 year old in a nearby town and this incident is being investigated. The police chief said that the taser "is not really meant for ten year olds." That word "really" really makes this quote. It makes me feel that the chief is not really convinced that the taser is really inappropriate for use on children.
I think tasers are a little bit funny and I sometimes pretend my cell phone is a taser and then I thrust it into the neck of Husbandman or one of the offspring while making a buzzing sound.
But really, I would never taser a 10 year old because I know for a fact a taser is not meant to be used on a child.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Poem

Busy day here at leeway. I read a lot of dorky little things today. In the morning, the newspaper said someone gave 500,000$ to our school system, but it's an estate gift, so we get 25,000$ a year from that. And the second grade peeps needed help with their common assessment so I read about polar bear fur and sea otter fur a bunch of times. Did you know that polar bears don't have fur on their noses or under their feet? Well, yes, I think we all know that. I read a bunch of third grade letters to other third graders in our town, asking them to listen to our podcast. After school, I read a power point full of photos about artful learning to a committee of people who are restructuring our school.
After reading a menu, I headed over to good pal Menosky's house to pick up a large bag of candy. She suggested I read some poetry tonight by Billy Collins. I came home and started leafing through Ballistics to find a short poem. I ended up reading a bunch of poems and especially loving the title poem. "Ballistics" is a poem about looking at a photo of a bullet being shot through a book.
Many novels sprang to mind
including those of Raymond Chandler
where an extra bullet would hardly be noticed.

A perfect thing to read on this first day of the reading blog challenge.