Friday, November 21, 2014

NCTE, I Love

NCTE, I love

I love a lot of things, a whole lot of things.

Like when my friend Lee lands, back in the States from Japan and we're at different airports doing the same things. So we text and send stickers and pictures while we wait on bags and arrange shuttle transportation and it feels like elementary school but with an electronic playground and we are laughing and jumping and waving and hugging.
Let me tell you, I love how Lee laughs. In person and in writing she makes people feel cared for and smart and cute too. Honey, that Lee makes me feel so lucky to call her friend. 

The day  was long for Lee, not so much me, Lee stayed awake so many, many hours and ate lots of meals and still had good hair and  energy to explore.  The hotel and convention center is on the water. There is a marina and a Ferris wheel and the cold air sparkles blue. 

Inside there are Christmas trees too and a glass walled atrium. From the lobby we can see rows of twinkle light trees, guardians of the magic that is NCTE. Honey, let me tell you, I love a twinkle-y tree and NCTE. 

I love laughing while learning at NCTE. Lester Laminack's amazing sequence of hilarity that juggled ginger, bourbon, and poles while pointing to read aloud's utmost importance. Brilliant. Honey, I loved listening (and drawing and noting and tweeting and seeing and sharing).

NCTE, I loved the first day.

Here are a few of the things folks said that I will be holding tight for a while:

"If you already know the answer it's not authentic--it's not real'"- Kylene Beers

"Talk that checks for understanding (Monologic) versus talk that creates understanding (dialogue)." - Kylene Beers

"I think she had a bedazzler at home, she always chose to make a trifold." -Donalyn Miller sharing anecdotes for each of Tomlinson's points of differentiation (content, process, product, learning environment).

"Students read 50-60% more in classrooms with adequate libraries." -Donalyn Miller (Allingon, 2008; Morrow, 2007; Neumann, 1999)

"It's got nothing to do with everyone or anyone or all or nothing." - Bob Probst

"Read with the zeal of a street performer! Do it with the attitude of a drug dealer!"-Leater Laminack 

"We may not have much money, but there is nothing my children will lack if we have a library card." - Gary's mother from Kylene Beer's story of her first trip to D.C.

"Segregation in this country by intellectual rigor is just as shameful as segregation by color; every time we focus on skill and will, we are keeping kids impoverished." - Kylene Beers

Friday, October 31, 2014

Poetry and Face Painting Friday

Turning Back by Sara Holbrook

October light
turns in by six
and night
comes early in the forest,

This weekend we will turn back the clocks. Halloween is a turning back for the teens in my classes--the holiday provides good cover for kids that want to turn back into kids, if just for a little while.

Teenagers can be quite serious. So serious that it's easy to forget that they like to be kids too.

Today we are writing for the Yes Magazine essay contest. The contest prompt asks students how they combat world suck with awesome digitally or otherwise. The prompt extends from an article about empathy, teens, the Green brothers and Nerdfighteria featured on the Yes Magazine site.

To prepare for writing we read and discussed the article. We watched the Nerdfighter F.A.Q. video. We brainstormed how we build strength and support in real life and online and we've planned how we could use a variety of details to shape our pieces.

I wrote with students this morning and I began my essay with an anecdote about painting a little girl's face at Give Kids the World Village.

After I wrote my lead I remembered that I had my face painting kit in the classroom. I usually paint students faces for our homecoming football game, but I didn't get a chance to do that this year. I was at a conference on that Friday. So after writing, I broke out the face paints and said I'd paint some Halloween cheer. Students were so cute. 

"Is it free?"
"Does it cost money?"
"You're going to what?"

They were delighted and the first boy that sat down. Well, he decided he wanted me to recreate the unicorn dolphin. 

I love working with teenagers. 

Have a Spooktacular Halloween!

Lee Ann

Sara Holbrook's feature poem for October "Turning Back" is on her website. Zoom on over there to read the entire piece.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Papertowns Moment

Sunday a John Green  tweet  read "In town for Papertowns. So excited."

What if both Green brothers were in town for the filming? What if the brothers decided to take a break and visit local classrooms, surprising teachers and students? Talk about awesome. Imagine the door opening.

Portable classrooms  in Florida, are stand-alone rectangles, strung together by  side walks. The portables open right to the outside.

As the classroom door opens, the sun shines in. The class sees the door-shaped sun patch stretch across the floor. Students  blink at  the bright light. We turn toward the door. We see only shadows at first, two, tall, lanky shadows, likely jean-clad. It wouldn't take a minute for us to recognize such celebrity guests.

Can you imagine?

That was my teacher day dream today. A day dream I shared with a student who'd written about Papertowns in her reading journal this morning. The student was telling me about talking to her agent about the Papertowns movie. I shared my day dream based on Green's tweet. For a minute we were fans together talking about a book we love. We were having the kind of excited conversation that the rest of the room quiets down to listen to.

When I looked up everyone was listening. Jessi and I shared a smile and right then the door flew open.

The wind caught it and sun spilled into the room. It was as if we all held our breath at the same time. Could it be? What if?

Everyone turned to the door, eyes wide.

In walked the fire marshal with a custodial escort. We laughed. Perfect timing

Slice of Life is hosted by the team at Two Writing Teachers. Head over to serve 
up a slice from your day or help yourself to seconds.