Sunday, February 9, 2014

where i live - Eileen Spinelli

As I was preparing to transfer books from home to my classroom today, I ran across where i live by Eileen Spinelli.  I'd forgotten how much I adore this book.  It's a great book of poetry.
      In it, we learn about Diana and her life... with all its twists and turns.  It's classic Eileen Spinelli.  Her words tug at your heart and your mind as you explore the life of Diana... who uses her writing to explain her life and the changes she's going through.
     Simple.  Complex.  Sweet.  Sad.  Happy.  Real.  Eileen Spinelli weaves a wonderful tale of Diana, her best friend Rose, her mom, her dad, and Grandpa Joe.  When Diana learns she has to leave the things she loves, it tugs at your heartstrings. 
      Eileen's words, accompanied by Matt Phelan's wonderful drawings, it's a perfect book to share with young readers who might be experiencing a move... or even a family struggle.  Encouraging children to write for authentic purposes might be an added bonus in sharing this book. 
     My two favorite poems are "Music" and "New Resident."  Sweet and simple.  It's a delightful read.
      There's nothing like finding a hidden gem in your stacks that you can't wait to share with your students...

New Resident

A wren has made
her nest
in the willow wreath 
on our front door. 

Now the yellow house
is her home 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Things Seem Like They're Working


What words would you use to describe our classroom?

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Today after hosting a group of visitors, I asked my students to name a few of the words that they'd used to describe our classroom.  This is their list.  Five minutes.  A quick "Tell me what you're thinking" look at our classroom.  "Just so I can share it with our visitors," I say.

I was struck by the word "seaming."  

Make sure you spell it S-E-A-M-I-N-G, Mr. Allen, as in everything "seems" like it is "seamed."  It's all seamed, you know.  Put together.  It works.  

And so it does, this thing we called learning.  When, together, we take a few minutes to share the intimate reflection of who we are and who we've become.  Along the way, through talk, invitations, smiles, and hard work... we have, indeed, created something that "seems seamless."  

But like all seams, there are times it's worn, and so we restitch with stronger thread. There are times it "bursts" and we step back and say, "What can we change?"  There are times we've moved too fast and the stitches are tight and unyielding.  There are times that things aren't working and we rip things apart and start over.  There are times we have to think about which stitch will work best...

Straight Stitch - for those times where we know exactly where we're going.

Back Stitch - for those times when we have to try again.

Chain Stitch - for those things we link together.

Couching - for those pieces we need to hold in place to admire. 

Feather Stitch - for those times we need to embellish.

Seed Stitch - for those times we cluster things together.

Long and Short Stitch - for those times we can't agree.

French knots - for those times we need to get a bit fancy.

And so we work with nimble fingers and open minds to create learning that can be, in fact, seemingly... real!


What words would your students use to describe your classroom?