Friday, April 4, 2014

It's National Poetry Month So Do Something Poetic

You may or may not know that poetry has been in my blood since I was 7. That's when I wrote my first poem. I don't remember what is was about and it likely wasn't an award-winner, but it started me on a journey that goes on to this day. My mother has my first books of poems (of course she does, she's my mother). I wrote each one on lined notebook paper then glued each to colored construction paper and tied the whole thing together with thick yarn. I gave it to her for Mother's Day. It still sits proudly on the bookshelves in her living room with some other poetry books I wrote (and was lucky enough to find a publisher for in Crystal Springs Books ) 30 years later.

Writing poetry is what brought me into the world of professional writing. I first wrote for students who needed things they could read and then it went wild from there. My first published book of poems led me to write 3 more, to have the opportunity to speak to teachers all over the country, and likely, to writing this blog in a round-about way.

So, what I'm saying is this: evoke a love of poetry in students and you never know what will happen. This week the folks at Edutopia had a great post to get you started. I've linked it here. Check it out and have fun this month!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

If I Only Had a Brain

Well, okay, I do have one and I try and keep it challenged. We should be doing the same things for the brains of our students. It's Brain Awareness Week and the folks at eSchoolNews had an interesting (and brief, so take a minute to read it!) article with some facts about the brain. Within the article there are related links that might be of interest.

Earlier this week I was in Columbia, SC speaking at a PK/K conference put on by my friends at SDE and I was sharing a few brain tid bits that hit home for those eductors: when students use both hands to learn or practice a skill or concept, they are more likely to remember it (so pipe cleaners are better than paper and pencil for kids trying to remember letter forms) and ball tossing boosts thinking (write math facts, vocab words...on beach balls and toss those around, asking students to identify, read, complete, or answer the item their right thumb lands on). The latter tip came from Eric Jensen and his book Brain Compatible Strategies - worth a read.

Take care of your brain and your brain will take care of you.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Comparing George's Stories

President's Day is coming and a great activity to get your students doing some critical thinking is to compare a few books about a president. I am thinking of George Washington in particular. There are a few great and quite different books out there that chronicle his life, or some part of it: George Did It, Big George are two of my favorites, the latter being new in the last year or so. Choose a more traditional biography to add to the exercise, like those written by David Adler. See what your kids come up with - let them do the talking and see where it takes you.  Have fun!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Black History Heroes

Scholastic had a great article in the winter issue of their Instructor magazine about "first" in black America. I learned things I didn't know and I know students would too. They've included some terrific stories in the article and have a list of suggested book titles to go along with the topic. I've linked the article here so you can check it out.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Holiday Season - Again?

Well, no, but the month of February brings quite a few things to celebrate: Black History, Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year,Valentine's Day, and President's Day to name a few. I've been looking for some great activities to pass along and, as usual, the folks at Scholastic have some goodies. Start here with some Groundhog Day ideas and check back in a couple of days for links, ideas, and book titles that might come in handy for some of the others. See you soon!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Are You Slow? I Hope So.

I have long been a proponent of slowing down, even backing up sometimes, to better serve our students and ourselves, in turn. While the new calendar year is not the beginning of a new school year, I do think it is an opportunity to try something new or take a fresh approach in our classrooms. I recently read a blog from my favorites at Edutopia, and while I know it is not possible in full, or maybe even in part right now, I love the mindset behind it. I have linked it here so that you made read it with ease and in hopes of inspiring you to try to slow down just one thing you do with students. Check it out, slowly.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The First Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving right around the corner it's a good time  for a history lesson. The best way to inform students about what life was like in 1620 is to take virtual field trips and view reenactments and primary sources from that time. The folks at Scholastic have a great set of goodies to use with your interactive whiteboard. You can visit Plimoth Plantation, watch videos, learn about the Mayflower, read historic letters, and so on. Check it out - I've linked it here.

Enjoy the feast!