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?

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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Teaching By Example

Sometimes you will walk into my room during reading workshop and instead of meeting with small groups, I will be reading.  This is an intentional choice.

I know that instructional time is limited and I need to take advantage of every minute.  However, I also know that I might be the only adult my students see reading.  My students need models.  I can’t just tell them I read – they need to see me reading!

Sometimes you will walk into my room during reading workshop and I will be reading my own book.  I am teaching.  I am teaching by example.

What if…?

Trying out some poetry in preparation for our poetry writing unit:

 

What if there was no CCRAP test? 

I might get to teach students what they need,

without the pressure of this test

in the background of my mind.

What if my worth as an educator

wasn’t decided by a standardized test?

I could stress less, smile more.

I could make a bigger difference.

What if there was no CCRAP test? 

I would not be sitting here dreading going to school

Dreading the next few weeks of testing

And everything that goes along with it.

What if educators made the decisions?

There would be no CCRAP test.

SOL #31 – So long March 2017! We’ll send you off with a song!

The events leading up to this event are a little sketchy and may or may not have taken place during writing workshop.   However, it involves several pig erasers in my student, Al’s possession.  Said erasers were nameless at the time of the slice.20170330_123126

Another student and I suggested the pigs be called Bacon, Hot Dog, and Pork Chop. Al did not find this entertaining.

He continued to brainstorm names, accepting Pork Chop – not because it’s a food, but because it’s just a good sounding name.  He still needed two more…

“Ohhhh!!! Spiderpig!!!”  Al shouted.

And then the low chatter of students raised and then transformed into the singing of Spiderpig – as a class, they sang.  Al danced to a beat (not the beat), eyes closed,  basking in the voices of his classmate’s singing.

“Spider pig, Spider pig.  Does whatever a….”  it didn’t last long, they weren’t all very confident with the words…  But the memory of the impromptu song will last much longer.

After deciding he would write about this for the last slice of March, he said of this event:  “One day the blogs are going to get old and everyone is going to forget it, but I’m never going to forget it.”

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SOL #30 – “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”

The sudden changes in mood and conversation with fifth graders still surprises me sometimes often.

I had a couple students at my table during reading workshop today.  We read Langston Hughes’ Mother to Son and were talking about it.  Really they were talking about it and I was listening composing this slice in my head.  It is amazing what these kids are capable of understanding and the conversations they have:

Well, son, I’ll tell you:

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

It’s had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor –

Bare.

But all the time

I’se been a-climbin’ on,

“I’m picturing the son leaving for college.  And the mom is saying that life is going to be hard, but he should keep trying.”

“Yeah, but I think she wrote it on a note.  Cause people don’t just go around and talk in poems.”

“No one’s life is easy.  Everyone has struggles.”

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

Where there ain’t been no light.

“It means there are lots of struggles, obstacles.  She’s saying there are hard things in life.”

“And you think things are better, you’re done.  And then there’s more.”

Don’t you set down on the steps

‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.

Don’t you fall now –

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

“She’s telling her son not to give up. ”

“Plus, if you sit on a tack, that would really hurt.”

“And falling off the stairs and landing on tacks and nails…”

The sudden changes in mood and conversation with fifth graders still surprises me sometimes often.

SOL #29 – “Boom. Clap”

“Maybe you could add onomatopoeia here? To describe what it sounded like when we crashed?” I suggested to a student about his slice as another boy sat next to him typing.

He looked at me quizzically, so I gave him a few examples, “Boom!  Crash!”

“Sound of my heart…”  sings the boy next to us.  I couldn’t help but start cracking up!  Perfect timing.