This week, my classroom was busier than usual, we had a few visitors: two amazing cameramen, a sound technician (and his boom microphone), and my friend and editor, Bill Varner. Stenhouse Publishers spent two days filming our reader's workshop, focusing on reading conferences. They're putting together a dvd series to accompany Conferring: The Keystone of Reader's Workshop.
This year, my classroom happens to be in a "portable"... our school has three of them. We have six classrooms planted outside the confines of our school in the "cabins." And, while I love being next to my friend and colleague, Troy, I have to admit working with such a small space has been a challenge. The "mobiles" are nearly 200 square feet or so smaller than the classrooms in the school building. This year, my goal was to create an environment that was as homey and purposeful, book-filled and scholarly, warm and inviting as it was when I was in the building. I've been in a "portable" at least 12 of my 25 years, so I guess I should be used to it by now.
The point? My students did a wonderful job for the two days that the camera crew was in the classroom, so I wanted to end the week with a little thank you. What's a better thank you than adding books to the classroom library?
Here is the first of the four I added:
In the Piney Woods by Roni Schotter. When I read this one to my students today you could have heard a pin drop. It's a story of Ella and her grandfather who was "strong and straight and singing" and who built their family home near the woods... which now houses the extended family. It's beautifully written.
A story of family, relationships, aging, and death. The relationship between Ella and her grandfather holds the story together... the secrets and stories they share are sweet and powerful. "Everything has its time" is the theme.
I don't want to give too much away because like me and my students, I want you to sit for a few minutes in the silence of the story... letting it linger for a time. Schotter is the author of Nothing Happens on 90th Street, The Boy Who Loved Words, and Dreamland. What a great addition her latest is to our library. My 4th graders loved it and as writers, I think they're going to discover a lot within its pages. I'll share the others in the next few days.