I have unshakable faith in children. They always show me the way. ♥

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

my first grade writers...

Writing from some talented writers today...

My mom is gonna get
me a nintendo (dintendo) DS... in
Walmart. I am delighted!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he said delighted! We've been noticing some of the language in the books we've been reading and found "delighted" in one of the Henry and Mudge books.

I can ride it.
I ride it at the blacktop at
my house. My scooter makes
fire. It is a racer scooter.
When I ride it, I yell, "Rock on!" "Man!"

Yeah, okay, tell me you had such a writer's voice when you were six years old. I sure didn't.

I love Writing Workshop.

Monday, November 23, 2009

reading aloud...

On Friday I cried in front of my class.

Okay, that's sort of an exaggeration. But I did get teary in front of them. And they noticed. They knew about it. In fact, they expected it. My friends, there are so many amazing books out there in the world. Tons of them. There are quite a few that I cannot read without getting teary. Dogger is one of them. The writing is lovely and well paced and real, and there is a moment where a sister does something so kind for her brother that I always get choked up. Children always respond to this book, too. They want to borrow it, reread it, examine the illustrations, and make some of their own.

But I can't just go reading any book willy-nilly to my students. Before I can read aloud a book where I'm probably going to get teary for a moment, I have to know that:

1. the kids will be okay with seeing me tear up. (They worry.)
2. our class is in a place where we can have moments of raw emotion like that
3. they're going to get something out of the story, too.

They did. ♥

Before we read, we talked about books we'd read over the year... books that had taught us how to predict, books that had made us laugh, had inspired our writing, had done a multitude of different things. I also told them that sometimes we understand the story or the characters so well that we almost feel what they are feeling. We talked about laughing and crying, about happy tears and sad tears and proud tears, and we talked about what we would do if someone did cry during a story.

We were prepared.

I don't quite know how to describe the feeling of reading aloud to children to someone that has never had 24 children hanging on every dramatic word, but believe me when I say it is magical. Good writing and good reading do this. Shirley Hughes so beautifully described the feeling and action of the main character that by the climax of the story, the children were absolutely still, some with mouths open and all with their eyes no where but on the lush illustrations, and none with a single breath in their mouth.

By the time the children realized that I had paused at one point not because I was being dramatic, but because I literally couldn't read the next words until I swallowed the lump in my throat, they knew exactly how I was feeling.

Because they were feeling it, too.

Reading aloud is such an intimate, exciting, beautiful part of the day, and on Friday they realized another important layer.

Hyung told me later, "I know why you cry, Miz F. I feel like it, too."

So, yeah. On Friday I cried in front of my students. But they were ready. We all were.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


It's coincidental that the 40th Anniversary of Sesame Street coincides so perfectly with my current train of thought... magic.

Not Harry Potter magic, exactly, but the sort of magic or thrill of belief in something.

Years ago, I was watching an A&E biography on Sesame Street. It was really interesting. They showed the set of the TV show. I remember seeing demonstrations of how the puppeteers did their work; I remember distinctly seeing how Big Bird's puppeteer did all of the amazing Big Bird work work. It was fascinating.

And yet, when it was over, I remember turning to my partner and saying to him, "That was awesome. I had no idea how much work went into all of it. But, you know what? There is still a part of me that's convinced that there is an actual Sesame Street. With Ernie and Bert and Grover and Linda and Bob. So, that was a really cool show and all. But there really is a Sesame Street. And that wasn't it."

No matter what I may know now as an adult, there is still the level of magic that I still hold onto. Because it is magic.

My students live the magic every day. I see evidence all the time. I'll give you an example. Every day, wen I go pick up my students at lunch, I bring Zed. Zed is a little zebra puppet attached to a stick that fits inside a cone.

I hold the cone and the stick, and can control Zed with the stick. Zed's story is that he comes out only when it's quiet; loud noises scare him and he goes back into the cone. I initially brought him down to lunch in the beginning of the year when some of my darlings were having trouble transitioning from the loud of the lunchroom into the quiet of the hallway. Zed helped a lot.

Plus, Zed is adorable and I can make him really look like he's peering over the top, or looking intently at a student, or if I shake the stick just right I can make it look like he's waving to the children.

They. Love. Him.

And they wave back. (also, so do many teachers if Zed waves at them in the hallway. ♥)

Recently Sandy realized that *I* control Zed. That he's a puppet. That when I push the stick, Zed comes out. That when I turn the stick, Zed turns around. That when I shake the stick, Zed waves. Sandy noticed this and started watching and telling some of his friends. He was obsessed with it for a few days. His observer eye was glued to my stick hand and he watched every moment, finding triumph in the fact that he was right! Miz F was controlling Zed.

I think he wondered why none of his friends, though, seemed as obsessed by this idea as he was, why none of them really paid any attention to it, even when he pointed it out to them. A lot. He'd whisper to Warner, "look, look! See how Miz F is moving the stick!" Or: "When she shakes it, it makes Zed do the wave at us!" His friends might nod, or look, or acknowledge what he was saying, but only in a polite 'isn't that nice?' sort of way.

About a week later, Sandy stopped paying attention to every movement I made with Zed on the stick. He now waves to Zed as we walk down the hallway; he watches Zed and not my stick hand. He smiles and grins and laughs along with the children as we head down the hallway to our classroom. Sandy knows the truth now, that I control Zed.

But I think he just prefers the magic.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

halloween card...

I can't say that I've ever received a Halloween card from a student before, let alone a handmade one. I'd say Caden has set the bar pretty high. I adore this card. ♥

Monday, November 2, 2009

when I wasn't looking...

I was rereading this post this morning where I was reflecting on the disequilibrium of the beginning of the year. I always find it helpful to go back and reread previous posts both of my own and other teacher-bloggers that I appreciate. In the same way that different books/movies/articles inspire me in different ways depending on when I see them, rereading something about which I was thinking months or even weeks or years ago always gives me a fresh perspective.

The reason this hit me so profoundly this morning in my reread was that we're now somewhere around the 36th day of school. Our class has had eight weeks together and we are starting to find our feet. It struck me on Friday as I sat with a reading group and we giggled together when they realized that we have learned a ton of Quick & Easy words in the past three weeks, I looked out at the rest of the class. They were all working at different Reading Work Stations with their partners: reading, writing, talking, thinking.

Of course, I did have to give Caden a look to remind him to get back and focused, and there were a few other little teacher R's I did, but that's typical all through the year. All of the children were writing, reading, doing the work that we've practiced and thought about. They heeded the Stop sign (which reminds them that I am doing Very Important Work with the children at the teacher table) and solved any pressing concerns with their partner or another friend. They wrote and practiced words from our Word Wall, they worked on fluency in reading, the built words together with magnetic letters and Wikki Sticks. It wasn't perfect by any means, but it was real.

I watched my class and realized that somehow, when I wasn't looking (and when I was), my amazing students became first graders.

What a beautiful thing. ♥