The Book That Changed Everything

This is the personal narrative that I am working on alongside my students in our first unit.  It’s a work in progress. We’ll be publishing by the end of the week! 

Ring.  Ring.  Ring.   I saw Jackie flash across the screen.  Why is she calling me?  What does she want?  She only calls when she wants something.

“Hello.” I answered.

“Guess what, Jennie?!?!”

“What?”  I was surprised at her excited tone.  What could it be?

“I finished Twilight already!”

“The book?  Didn’t you just start it the other day?”  That couldn’t be right.  She had barely finished a book in her life, let alone one for fun…and only in a few days!

“Yes. I couldn’t stop reading.  I was picturing Bella and Edward in my head as I was reading-  since I knew what they looked like from the trailers.”

“Wow…Wait, you didn’t usually see pictures in your head?  With other books?”

“No.”

That was the first time I truly realized that the reason I loved reading was the movie that was happening in my mind as I read.  Jackie never had that before.  But because of the movie trailers out for Twilight, she saw the “mind movie” and she enjoyed reading.

Because of this realization, visualizing became a much more significant part of my reading instruction.

The book changed everything for Jackie as a reader.    The book changed everything for me as a teacher.  The bheading

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I don’t know…

Three of us live in our house.  School is starting soon for two of us.  The third is a dog.  He doesn’t go to school.

My son stood on the stairs, getting ready to take the dog, Milo, out.  He started wondering out loud about next week, the last week before we back to school…

“We should spend as much time with Milo as possible the days right before we start school.  Since we won’t be home with him as much.”

Then he paused.  “Or should we not be here?  So we can get him used to being alone for longer?”

The confusion was clear on his face, “Wait, I don’t know…Is it better to spend more time with him?  Or is it better to help him get used to us being gone?”

I couldn’t help but smile.  “Welcome to the world of parenting…You never know if you’re doing the right thing or not.”

 

 

Which texts have influenced you?

Textual Lineage Charts.  Ever heard of them?  I hadn’t until teaching the Fantasy Book Clubs unit of the 5th grade LC Reading Units.  (Session 7)  Your Textual Lineage includes the books that you have read that have influenced you.

I loved this idea and I needed more information than was in the curriculum.  The most helpful resource I found was from Teaching Tolerance.  So, I provided several of the prompts from the graphic organizer from Teaching Tolerance to my fifth graders.

I got mixed results…

From the very goofy, ready for summer responses…

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To the thoughtful responses I had hoped for…

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I’ve been thinking about my textual lineage ever since I first read about the concept and this is what I have come up with…

Top 10 Must-SeeTravel Destinations

Falling Up by Shel Silverstein

This was not the first or favorite book of my childhood.  There were so many.  But this is the one I read over and over.  The one that I talked to other people about and that led me to Shel Silverstein’s other masterpieces.  Even though part of my love of books has always been the solitude, there is still enjoyment to be found in sharing them.  This is the text that solidified that books are fun.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

I’m not sure exactly when I first read this book, but I think it was sometime in middle school?  And then again in college.  I love this book and it helped me realize that there is no such thing as a “boy book” or a “girl book.”  And if we put these labels on our favorites, a whole group of young people will never read a book that may change their views of reading and life in general.

Furiously Happy:  A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

This is one I just read last year and posted about here.  It helped me see that I am not alone and there is nothing wrong with me.   Self-acceptance is a long road, one that I am still traveling down.  However, the message I found in this book sure helped with the journey.

Which texts have influenced you?

Summer Jennie

Summer Jennie is much different than School Year Jennie (a.k.a. Ms. Bless).  Thanks to Michelle at Big Time Literacy for the idea!

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Summer Jennie can’t tell you the date and there’s a 50/50 chance she gets the day of the week right.

Summer Jennie doesn’t set an alarm. (But often gets wakes up to a barking dog around 9.)

Summer Jennie can handle if her son flips a water bottle.  Once.  And then any further flips are followed by an immediate “STOP.”

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It may not seem like a lot, but my nails NEVER get this long during the school year.

Summer Jennie has plenty of time to read books, not just listen to them during a long commute.

Summer Jennie only drives if she wants to drive.

Summer Jennie only has to wear shoes when entering a store.

Summer Jennie’s nails grow past her finger tips.  (Although I’m not sure exactly why, since neither Jennie chews her nails…maybe because she actually takes the time to keep them painted?)

Summer Jennie gets bored.  And she appreciates the boredom because she knows in less than a month, boredom will be something she only dreams about.

Summer Jennie is still a teacher though, so she still uses a t-chart sometimes…

 

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Summer Joy 7.7.17

This summer hasn’t been life changing or full of crazy vacations, but I’m loving it!

♥  My new pens!   I love school/office supplies, even if I’m not ready to go back to school yet.

♥ Library Used Book Sales

♥ Being Barefoot (I hate shoes!) and finding a book full of poems (at previously mentioned book sale) about being barefoot!

♥ Plenty of fun with my son:  fireworks, trips to the mall, and delicious Oberweis Shakes with a game of chess!

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“She grabbed a gray crayon and put pants on me.” The Importance of Feedback

I have been in a writing slump, but then I read this post from Two Writing Teachers about the book Feedback that Moves Writers Forward.  It left me with food for thought, a book to add to my summer reading list, and inspiration for a blog post.

The feedback we give our young writers is so important, be it formally or informally.  Our words can encourage, lift, or stifle their work. I know this as a teacher, but have seen it up close as a mother.

My son will be entering sixth grade this fall and has loved drawing and writing since before he could actually write or read. Even before he entered Kindergarten spent his days filling page after page with drawings that made stories.

In Kindergarten, he loved to write books.  And since he was in kindergarten, his books were mainly pictures that he narrated for us.  I would come home from work and he would have stacks of pages, stacked up in a specific order, ready to share with me.  He would tell me what was happening, complete with dialogue and sound effects.

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As you can see from the picture above, his characters didn’t have bodies.  The arms and legs came right out of the heads.  I got that developmentally he should have been drawing people with bodies, but he didn’t want to draw people that way.  At one point his teacher sent something home about this and I sat with him to help.  Turns out, he knew exactly how to draw the way she expected, he just didn’t like the way that looked.  He liked his way of drawing.   He was making an artistic choice. (One reason I try to find out WHY a student made a choice in his/her writing before dispensing feedback about it.)

You can see a video of him talking about one specific experience here.  “She grabbed a gray crayon and put pants on me.”    There have been plenty of times he told the story of his teacher “vandalizing” (the word Troy uses) his work.  I wasn’t there when this happened, I didn’t see it.  However, I did see how it affected him and his desire to create.

Luckily, since then, he has had teachers who provided feedback that made him proud of his work and encouraged to create more.  To grow. To move forward.  Teachers that read his personal blog and left him encouraging comments.  Teachers that return his hyperbole filled emails in the summer time.   It is because of those teachers that he will continue to move forward in his writing.

 

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I think of Troy’s experience every time I consider picking up a pen and writing on a student’s work.  How at the end of his elementary career, he still gets fired up about the teacher who didn’t like his drawings six years ago.

I very rarely write directly on my writers’ drafts.  Instead I leave comments on google docs, give verbal feedback in conferences, or use post-its.  My job is not to pick at each tiny mistake.  It is not my writing.  The writing belongs to a child.

My goal is not to create perfect writing, but motivated writers.

I can’t wait to get Feedback that Moves Writers Forward and learn more about moving my young writers forward!

 

There’s an Egg in My Pocket…

Crack!  They kept cracking, with the occasional successful drop.  We were trying out our first attempt at our creations to keep the raw egg from cracking.  I expected them to crack, it was our first trial after all.  I guess I should say I expected them to crack on the ground.  I should have known better…

Students were all around the blacktop.  Wandering.  Celebrating success.   Sulking because of failure.  Waiting for their turn to drop.

And then JJ came up to me.  “Ms. Bless.  Ms. Bless!”  I ignored him. I was talking to another student.  “Ms. Bless.  The egg cracked.”

“It’s alright.  We are going to try again next week.”

“No.  It’s getting in my shoe.  It’s cold.”

I looked at him for the first time.  His expression wasn’t exactly disappointed, more uncomfortable I would say.  His one leg was in an awkward position.  My head tilted to the right reflexively and then I understood….

The egg was in his pocket.  It cracked.  It was dripping down his leg and into his shoe…

“I told him not to put it in his pocket, Ms. Bless.  He didn’t listen.”  Mitchell said shaking her head.

Yep…

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