Archive for June, 2011

Poetry Friday: The Writer

I was hunting around for a good graduation poem — it is the season, after all — when I came across this poem by Richard Wilbur. It spoke to me and everything that occupies my mind these days: parenting, writing, life. I hope it speaks to you too on this Poetry Friday!

The Writer
By Richard Wilbur
In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.

Add comment June 10th, 2011

Do you Tweet?

If you do, you are not alone. If you don’t, you are not alone. If you can’t decide whether Twitter has any place in your teaching, you are also not alone.

Katie Keier (Catching Readers Before They Fall) and Kassia Omohundro Wedekind (upcoming Math Exchanges), recorded this podcast conversation to explain how Twitter can help you find a professional learning community, connect with teachers around the world, and provide unique professional development opportunities. Listen to their conversation below, or read the full transcript that also includes the Twitter names of those mentioned in the podcast.

2 comments June 8th, 2011

And the winner is….

Drum roll, please! We are happy to announce the winner of our “Take Us on an Adventure” writing contest. We received close to 70 entries and Peter Lourie and David Somoza, authors of Writing to Explore, had a hard time picking a winner.

In the end, they agreed that Clara Molot’s scrapbook entry was the one that truly took the readers on an adventure. Here is what Peter and David said about Clara’s entry: “We finally chose Clara Molot’s The Great Michigan Triangle Adventure for its attention to detail and its adventurous and creative spirit. Written as a diary, photos and text combined, the entry is the story of Emma, the daughter of an architect who has taken his family from their home in Detroit to a small town on Lake Michigan for a year. She is at first terribly unhappy but grows to love the unlovable small town and the big lake because of the mysteries that abound, mysteries that she takes it upon herself to solve.”

Congratulations to Clara, who is a sixth-grade student at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. Her teacher is Rebecca Farnum.

Read Clara’s entry here.

Two of her classmates, Jack Micallef (A Marine’s Account of Guadalcanal) and Jolisa Osborn-Polakoff (A Jew in a Christian’s Shoes: The Story of Erika von Stein) are among the four runners-up in the contest. The other two entries that caught the judges’ eyes are by Gabriela Himmele (On Our Way to Lewis Falls), and by Annalise Cappello (Vacation in Venice.) Gabriela is in the sixth-grade at Manheim Township School District and Annalise is also a sixth-grader at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton, MA.

Congratulations to everyone!

1 comment June 7th, 2011

Poetry Friday: The Swing

Here’s a great summer children’s poem by Robert Louis Stevenson for this lovely Friday afternoon. Enjoy!

The Swing
By Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

Add comment June 3rd, 2011

Now Online: Real Revision

How can you make revision a relevant and engaging part of your writing instruction? Award-winning children’s book author and English teacher Kate Messner calls on her own revising experience as well as that of more than 40 other authors to bring you a trove of tips and techniques in her new book, Real Revision.

From creating the ideal revision environment and brainstorming to adding details and enlivening characters, Kate provides inspiration that you can turn to again and again as you work with students to improve their writing.

Throughout the book you’ll find profiles and quotes from mentor authors such as Jane Yolen, Rebecca Stead, and Katherine Erskine, 58 “Try It” lessons and exercises that will help you translate concepts into practice, and dozens of photos and writing samples.

If you don’t think of revision as exciting, you will after reading Real Revision. Browse the book in its entirety and pre-order online!

Add comment June 2nd, 2011

Now Online: “Can We Skip Lunch and Keep Writing?”

How can you encourage students to think of writing as communicating with a wider audience, not just something they do to answer a prompt?

What tools and resources can you use to update traditional lessons to immediately engage students?

How can you weave topics from reading, science, or social studies into writing assignments so students will comprehend the content through multidisciplinary connections?

In her new book, “Can We Skip Lunch and Keep Writing?”, classroom teacher Julie Ramsay shows you how to use technology as a catalyst to re-energize your writing instruction as you teach students to be inquisitive, innovative, and self-directed learners.

Julie describes her own journey from traditional lessons to simple word processing and publishing tools, digital storytelling, distance learning, interactive editing, and revamped rubrics. You’ll find practical lessons that will give you a foundation for weaving technology into common writing standards. And a companion Web site gives readers access to sample student work and videos from Julie’s classroom.

We’ve just posted the entire text of “Can We Skip Lunch and Keep Writing?” online for preview. The print version will start shipping in mid-June and can be pre-ordered now!

2 comments June 1st, 2011

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